Thursday, October 30, 2008

Leading UK Anaerobic Digestion Companies Merge

Two of the firms to first pioneer the use of anaerobic digestion technology for the treatment of municipal solid waste in the UK have merged in a move which they claim will "significantly change" the face of the industry.

BIOGEN (UK) Ltd, which runs a flagship 42,000 tonne-a-year capacity AD plant at Twinwoods in Bedfordshire, has taken over Shropshire-based engineering company Greenfinch.

Greenfinch runs a 5,000 tonne-a-year capacity plant in Ludlow which was the first full-scale AD facility to treat municipal waste in the UK (see story) and is one of Defra's New Technologies Demonstrator projects.

The new company, entitled BiogenGreenfinch, now plans to deliver "a fully integrated AD solution to the agricultural, food, waste and water industries and to local authorities" and will employ 43 people.

Michael Chesshire, founder of Greenfinch and technology director of BiogenGreenfinch, said: "Britain needs a strong home grown AD industry and BiogenGreenfinch brings together the expertise and resources of two pioneering companies which have invested heavily in the development of the technology for food waste, for agriculture and for the water industry."

He added: "Interest in AD has increased enormously over the past two years because of its strong credentials as a low carbon technology, addressing the challenges of landfill diversion, energy costs, fertiliser costs and resource management."

Biogen build and operate AD plants to convert food waste and animal slurry into energy and biofertilser. Its facilities treat food waste from local authorities and food manufacturers and slurry from a pig farming operation run by its parent company, Bedfordia.

Greenfinch is an engineering company that provides AD technology for sewage, slurry and food waste treatment. It designed, built and runs the South Shropshire Biodigester in Ludlow.


Dan Poulson, chief executive of BiogenGreenfinch said: "This is an exciting milestone for both companies. BiogenGreenfinch has secured funding from Bedfordia Group plc which has invested a total of £18m to develop the business. The consolidation of two such complementary businesses enables a significant increase in research and development investment, improving further on the second generation AD plant currently under construction and ten further plants in development."

An AD facility planned by BIOGEN is currently under construction at Westwood, near Rushden in Northamptonshire, and is set to process 45,000 tonnes of food waste each year and produce enough electricity to power 2,000 homes. It is expected to be operational by March next year (see story).

John Ibbett, chairman of BiogenGreenfinch and of Bedfordia Group said: "We feel privileged and delighted to be joining forces. Both Biogen and Greenfinch have grown from family businesses with strong values and these will continue to be upheld."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recent Conferences Feature on AD when Reducing Waste to Landfill

There have been a number of events and conferences that have taken place so far this Autumn in the waste field that have been set up with the key driver of reducing waste sent to landfill - and guess what they include in their armoury of options, to do this - Anerobic Digestion!

The UK government's Defra funded New Technology Demonstrator Programme (NTDP) features in many of the events. The NTDP sets out to provide councils and staff from the local authorities with the opportunity of seeing new technologies for waste processing in operation, and for the lucky chosen few operators the opportunity to show off their technological prowess in developing these plants, commissioning, and operating them.

Information being gathered and publicised about the new technologies in the NTD Programme is playing a vital role in informing the discussions on a national scale.

Some recent conferences have been:

European Biofuels Expo and Conference

This conference took place in Nottingham on October 15th and 16th it aimed to balance the recent negative press and focus on the ‘good’ biofuels and how to address the challenges facing the industry. The 3rd annual event covered sustainable biofuel and bioenergy solutions for a low CO2, long-term sustainable future. Day 1 of the conference included speakers and workshops on biogas production through anaerobic digestion.

Food Waste Collection and Processing Conference (MRW)

This conference on October 16th aimed to “bring together innovative local authorities, Central Government policy makers, pioneering waste processing facilities and top consultants to set the path forward for a fully joined up solution to food waste.” Presentations included discussion around the WRAP food collection trails, in which the Biocycle Anaerobic Digestion plant, in Ludlow has participated. There was also a focus on incorporating business food in to local waste strategies, again, a scheme is being piloted in Ludlow with the Biocycle demonstrator facility.

As well as discussion on anaerobic digestion (AD), the key role of in-vessel composting (IVC) is also highlighted, and this new technology is demonstrated by Bioganix and Envar as part of the NTDP.

Scottish Waste and Resources Conference, Glasgow

Formally known as Eventful Scotland, this high profile event was held on October 7th and 8th.

Although not directly featuring any of the NTDP plants, this conference focused on some of the key issues being highlighted by the Defra Programme such as:

. residual waste and its options;
• love food, hate waste;
• residual waste energy and heat;
• food waste experience; and
anaerobic digestion.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

UK Government Consults on Plan to Slow Biofuel Targets

Transport minister Andrew Adonis launched a consultation today on the government's plan to slow its annual rise in targets for using biofuels within UK road transport fuel.

The consultation, which closes December 17, 2008, represents the response to this summer's Gallagher Review, which recommended a more cautious approach to promoting biofuels because of concerns about their social and environmental side-effects

The plan under consultation from today includes slowing the annual increase in renewable transport fuel targets to 0.5% each year.

This would see the target under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) rising to 5% in 2013/14, rather than in 2010/11 as in current plans.

Launching the consultation, Mr Adonis said: "Everyone agrees that to tackle climate change we must develop new and cleaner fuels. But we are clear that biofuels will only have a role to play in this if they are sustainably produced."

Within the consultation, the government said it wants to add biobutanol and hydrogenated renewable diesel to the list of renewable fuels that qualify under the RTFO, which requires all companies that supply more than 450,000 litres of petrol or diesel to UK forecourts to include proportions of renewable fuel within their supplied products.

EU target

The Department for Transport said it is still supporting the proposed European target of 10% renewable transport fuels by 2020, as being negotiated within the forthcoming Renewable Energy Directive.

But, contradicting its statement of support, the Department said the 10% target was "not presently justified by the scientific evidence" and would only be possible if new controls on land use change were enforced globally.

Transport ministers want the target to be kept open to review should new evidence emerge on the impacts of biofuels.

In the mean time, the government said sustainability criteria for biofuels are being negotiated and should address indirect as well as direct effects on land use, while the government said it aims to help draw up international standards and controls on biofuels "which reflect the international nature of the biofuels industry".

Long-term policy

As well as the immediate changes to the RTFO targets, which will be pushed through Parliament within the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (Amendment) Order 2009, today's consultation also poses some "long-term" policy questions.

The government is seeking views on issues that could help shape future UK biofuels policies, including support for using tallow as a biofuel, and how to encourage more production of second-generation biofuels - biofuels made from non-food crops.

Europe's draft Renewable Energy Directive suggests double rewards for biofuels from non-food sources, and the government in the UK also believes "we should aim to target support on the development of lower carbon and other so called ‘second generation' biofuels".

Further questions within the consultation ask for views on whether to split the RTFO to introduce quotas for first generation biofuels and separate targets for other renewable fuels. And, the government is looking into how to link the RTFO targets to carbon emissions savings achieved by biofuels, in order to encourage efficient production processes.


Alongside the biofuels consultation today, the Department also announced a new £6 million injection of funding into research the Carbon Trust is carrying out into developing advanced biofuels.

Mr Adonis said: "We need to take a more cautious approach to biofuels and today's consultation sets out our options, as well as dedicating a further £6 million to helping ensure that second generation biofuels are truly sustainable."

Anaerobic Digestion Quality Protocol nears Completion

AnDigestion Ltd, which currently requires 60-70 separate consents for digestate from its AD plant in Devon, has welcomed the Protocol.

A major regulatory barrier to the development of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in the UK is close to being overcome, with work to develop a "quality protocol" for the process now nearing completion, writes James Cartledge.

The Protocol will allow companies generating energy through the AD process to deal with the residues from the process more easily - opening the door to potentially hundreds or even thousands of new schemes in the UK.

Anaerobic digestion generates energy from organic waste materials including household or commercial food waste, as well as agricultural wastes and slurry. The technology involves huge tanks in which the organic material is broken down by bacteria, which generate energy-rich "biogas", which is mainly methane.

But while the solid residues from the process is a useful nitrogen-rich fertiliser, farmers seeking to use it on their fields are currently hindered by its legal classification as a "waste".

The new Quality Protocol will mean that if the digestate material is produced to a certain standard - known as PAS 110 and also nearing completion - the fertiliser will not be classed as a waste in the eyes of the law.

Yesterday saw the developers of the Protocol, the government's Waste and Resources Action Programme, granting the UCAS-accredited scheme independence by formally handing over its operation to the Renewable Energy Association.

At the REA's Bioenergy 2008 event in Birmingham, the Association announced formation of a new oversight panel for the AD Quality Protocol, chaired by Defra policy advisor Roger Unwin. The REA is now inviting representatives of different industry sectors interested in anaerobic digestion to come forward to become members of the Protocol oversight panel.

Mr Unwin said yesterday: "I have been asked to announce that there will be an REA biogas certification scheme, it will be working with this Quality Protocol to a PAS 110 standard, which should shortly be available."

The final form of the Protocol is awaiting only the sign-off from the Environment Agency, which polices waste regulations including governing the spreading of organic waste-derived fertilisers on land. More...

Agri-food Producers Could Do More to Send Food Waste to Anaerobic Digestion Plants says Greg Hilton

Bidwells Proposes Anaerobic Solution

Agri-food businesses and householders alike could be diverting more of their food waste to anaerobic digestion plants in order to save on volumes going to landfill and creating a renewable energy source.

Greg Hilton, Renewable Energy consultant for Bidwells Agribusiness said: “We throw away over 6 million tonnes of food waste each year, with the vast majority going to landfill. If we used just 10 per cent of this food waste in AD plants we would be able to supply 50,000 houses with clean, green energy. We would also have a significant impact on our carbon emissions as the food sector is responsible for around 20 per cent of the entire UK carbon emissions.

Diverting food waste from landfill, where it produces the damaging greenhouse gas methane, would make a big difference." The outputs of AD are electricity for use on site or export to the national grid, as well as heat for use in the business or nearby properties, and a rich bio-fertiliser, which could have added benefits for horticultural and agricultural land.

Increases in landfill tax and increased returns from renewable electricity are likely to make AD increasingly attractive in the future. Hilton said: "Anaerobic Digestion offers a win-win situation. It diverts waste from going to landfill, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and provides high value, sustainable energy.

As energy prices increase, technology develops and pressure mounts to reduce carbon emissions, measures that are green and sustainable become increasingly popular and more viable.

At Bidwells we have…experience in evaluating the technical and economic viability of anaerobic digestion and biomass combined heat and power systems, and we predict that more and more projects will become economically viable over the coming years as margins improve and set up costs fall."

Meanwhile, Leicestershire County Council has recognised the potential value and benefits of anaerobic digestion and is offering support to businesses that would like to evaluate its potential. The council is offering grants of up to £5,000 for a maximum of half the value of an AD feasibility study and is keen to encourage businesses to take up the opportunity. More.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hydrolysis Combined with Anaerobic Digestion is a Winner for Sewage Sludge Digestion Plant Operators

Many of the the companies which have been involved in sewage sludge digestion and are the most experienced in the field are using thermal hydrolysis within their chosen processes. These companies tend to develop their own slant on optimising the hydrolysis stage and to use their own trade name, neverthelsss there is a common reason for doing this and it is to increase the rate of conversion of organic matter, to reduce retention periods within the digester and improve gas yields.

We have uploaded a new page with the title "Hydrolysis, Sewage Sludge and Anaerobic Digestion", to the UK Anaerobic Digestion Community web site, based upon Veolia's experience with using hydrolysis a part of the digester systems, which provides more information on this.

Sewage sludge digestion has been carried out by anaerobic digestion at some UK sewage works since in the UK sewage sludge first began to accumulate in the new activated sludge type sewage works built from the 1950's in inland areas. However, most of it was simply discharged to the sea untreated until the 1970s including huge tonnages from our large cities. Fortunately, those days are long past with the practice outlawed by the European Union, and ever since then, the huge volumes produced have been treated and disposed of by a variety of methods. All are expensive, and the lowest cost option of discharge untreated to land, brings with it health and soil-metals build up problems, such that its use has to be limited.

As a result, safe and cost-effective disposal of sewage sludge is, without doubt, one of the biggest challenges now facing the wastewater industry. The high cost of energy means that some disposal routes such as incineration which were once favoured are less viable, and others have ceased to be economic.

However, as one technology fades another shines. That process is thermal hydrolysis, and when combined with anaerobic digestion they are a great combination.

Companies such as CAMBI, Monsal, and Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies have recognised this and produced their own proprietary systems. More about advanced AD with hydrolysis.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Somersets Best Practice for Collecting Food Waste

We make no apology for providing posts on food waste collection. We believe that many AD Projects will rely heavily on food waste for performance and profitabiity, and therefore that the AD Community will be interested in articles like this one which inform about the development of the relatively new art of food waste collection.

Somerset shares best practice for collecting food waste

The Somerset Waste Partnership has recommended two ways in which councils can help successfully capture food waste which were "not fully covered" in recent WRAP research.

There are two aspects, not fully covered by the trials, involving food waste caddy liners and collection vehicles, which have been important features of our successful collections in Somerset

Published earlier this month (see story), the WRAP research was conducted by 19 local authorities serving over 94,000 households.

However, the SWP, which manages waste and recycling on behalf of Mendip, South Somerset, Sedgmoor and West Somerset district councils, Taunton Deane borough council and Somerset county council - has also provided food waste collections since October 2004 and serves over 165,000 households.

While welcoming the WRAP study, which highlighted public support for food waste collections, the SWP pointed out that it itself had increased yields through methods which were not discussed in detail.

In particular, it claimed it was not always necessary to provide free liners at a great cost to councils as had happened during the trials or to provide dedicated food waste collection vehicles - advocating selling liners locally and combined collection vehicles instead.

These methods have already helped the SWP to capture an average yield of 1.71 kg a household a week across Somerset, rising to 1.93kg in Taunton Deane. The SWP claimed that only two of the WRAP trials achieved more than this and overall averaged 1.7kg a household a week in areas where there were fortnightly refuse collections and 1.4kg a week for trials with weekly refuse collections.

David Mansell, strategy and communications team leader at the Somerset Waste Partnership, said: "The WRAP trials have increased knowledge on food waste collections, especially for multiple-occupancy housing and the performance that can be achieved over a range of local authorities, including those with weekly and fortnightly refuse collections. However, there are two aspects, not fully covered by the trials, involving food waste caddy liners and collection vehicles, which have been important features of our successful collections in Somerset."


While the WRAP study did acknowledge that the creation of an independent network for the distribution of liners could have the "added benefit of providing a new business opportunity for local retail outlets", WRAP said that the use of caddy liners was imperative in councils achieving high participation rates and issued them free of charge during the course of the study. Aware that there were certain resource implications, the study did state that the "associated avoided disposal costs could justify the provision of free liners".

However, the SWP said that when it first introduced food waste collections in 2004, the council stated that it could not afford to provide an on-going supply of caddy liners and instead promoted the use of newspaper to wrap food waste or line kitchen caddies and also made arrangements for liners to be sold in local shops.

Mr Mansell said: "Both options have worked well and retail liner sales have developed into a thriving local market, which we estimate could be worth over £450,000 a year in Somerset, with supermarkets and some local retailers now sourcing their own supplies."


The WRAP study also advocated the use of dedicated food collection vehicles, which the SWP contested.

The SWP currently operates combined collection vehicles which it says suits the rural layout of the authority.

Mr Mansell said: "The other feature of the Somerset collections which varies from the WRAP trials is the use of combined collection vehicles for greater operational efficiency, especially on collections in rural areas. The WRAP pilots used separate dedicated collection vehicles for food waste. In Somerset, our contractor, May Gurney, uses stillage vehicles which combine recycling and food waste collections."

Related links

The Partnership is currently undertaking trials of a three-way split compaction vehicle, which would have a section for food waste behind the driver's cab and split compaction chambers at the rear for plastics bottles and cardboard. The SWP pointed to the capabilities of this collection type and how it is currently used on the Isle of Wight to collect both food waste and refuse.

A 19-page information pack on Somerset's food waste collections is available from the Somerset Waste Partnership by emailing:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Anaerobic Digestion is the Way Forward Ruddock Says

An anaerobic digestion plant in Ludlow, which takes food waste from the town and turns it into electricity and compost, was described as ‘the way forward’ by Minister for Waste, Joan Ruddock when she visited the site last week.

The plant is part of Defra’s £30 million New Technologies Demonstrator Programme which tests innovative technology that could offer alternatives to landfill. The Ludlow partnership attributes some of its success to good communication with the local community, which has led to 70 percent of residents taking part in the voluntary food waste collection scheme which supplies the plant.

Anaerobic digestion breaks down organic matter to produce biogas which can be used as a renewable energy source for heat and power, and as a transport fuel. It produces a nutrient-rich digestate which can be used as fertiliser, and importantly it keeps organic waste out of landfill, which cuts greenhouse gas emissions. At its full potential it is thought anaerobic digestion could produce enough electricity to power 2 million homes.

Visiting the Ludlow plant, Joan Ruddock said:

“Anaerobic digestion is extremely attractive. Why would we go on throwing food waste into holes in the ground when we could generate our own electricity and end up with a product that can be returned to the soil?
“It seems to me that a plant on this scale would fit into any industrial estate in the country. While the decision has to be taken locally – and in consultation with residents – I am sure this is the way forward.”
Defra is now making a further £10 million available for a programme to test the full range of applications and benefits of anaerobic digestion. This will be delivered through a capital grant competition run by the Waste and Resources Action Programme with assistance from the Carbon Trust. Between three and six projects will be selected, and bids will be invited in the autumn.

Anyone interested can register for more information at: [Broken Link]