Saturday, December 09, 2017

IADAB News - Edition 12: New Global AD Bioenergy Report - Encouraging Signs from UK Government - AD Certification Scheme and Hydroponically Grown Tomatoes

Date: 8 December 2017: This is Issue 12 of the IADAB News Weekly, where we summarise the news of the week in the fast developing Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Industry.

It has been busy a week for news, partly due to the ADBA Annual Conference having taken place in London during the week. We have selected the following to summarise and create excerpts, to help our readers quickly access the AD and biogas/information they seek:

A new Global AD Bioenergy Report which has a lot of information in it of use to biogas newcomers, and potential biogas plant developers. The work was supported in parts by funding from the USDA NIFA Hatch project, and research support provided by state and
federal funds appropriated to The Ohio State University

Next we report on the encouraging signs for Biogas because Anaerobic digestion is central to UK Government policy, says Lord Deben. 

Then there is the launch of the AD Certification Scheme, and finally we have news of research into using digestate to fertilise Hydroponically Grown Tomatoes which suggests yet another use for AD facility digestate.

Alright, let’s get started… (Scroll down for each extract and links to individual websites.)

The following is our intro video. Watch the intro video below, for a taster of what you will read if you scroll down below the video:

The following excerpt (1) leads to a detailed report pdf which has just been published and is available for free download. Despite the awful length of the title, this document would be a good starting point for anyone seeking to obtain a broad understanding with the current global status of anaerobic digestion and biogas production worldwide. 

Not only that, the report also provides sources for AD plant operating prices, which would be worthwhile for anyone seeking to understand comparative costs for different types of AD plant and feeding these plants with different organic materials.

1 - Anaerobic digestion for bioenergy production: Global status, environmental and techno-economic implications, and government policies

This review explores the current status of the AD technology worldwide and some of the environmental, economic and policy-related drivers that have shaped the implementation of this technology. 

The findings show that the regulations and incentives have been the primary factor influencing the steady growth of this technology, in both developing and developed countries.via Anaerobic Digestion Global status

2 - UK’s anaerobic digestion industry sees encouraging signs from government

The UK’s Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) has welcomed the British government’s new Industrial Strategy White Paper, saying that anaerobic digestion (AD) can play a key role in ‘enhancing’ Britain’s industrial capacity.

Key features of the White Paper are agri-tech and the circular economy. Anaerobic digestion plays an important role in both sectors by supporting sustainable agriculture and organic resource recovery, ADBA argues.

Concerning the circular economy, the White Paper says: 
“A linear ‘take, make, dispose’ economy risks eroding the natural capital central to its long-term growth through resource depletion and environmental pollution. 
[The government is] committed to moving towards a more circular economy – to raising productivity by using resources more efficiently, to increasing resilience by contributing to a healthier environment, and to supporting long-term growth by regenerating our natural capital.”

The government has therefore pledged to create a new Bioeconomy Strategy to establish a framework for growth in the sector.
“The move to cleaner economic growth – through low carbon technologies and the efficient use of resources” is described in the White Paper as one of four ‘Grand Challenges’ for the future.
“In terms of sustainable agriculture, AD is vital to transforming food production so that we can ‘produce more from less’ whilst reducing emissions, pollution, waste, and soil erosion across the UK. Not only does AD offer a treatment option for organic agricultural wastes, it also produces renewable energy and transport fuel, reduces farm emissions, and helps restore soils through the production of nutrient-rich biofertiliser”,
said Charlotte Morton, ADBA CEO.

Source: AD & Bioresources Assoc.
“We’re encouraged to hear that the government will increase incentives for investment in sustainable agriculture to help grow markets for innovative technologies and techniques. 
AD is clearly one such technology, so we look forward to further details on this support.”

Morton continued: 
“The government is also right to highlight the benefits of moving towards a more circular economy in which resources are used more efficiently, and a dedicated Bioeconomy Strategy is an important step forward in this regard. As the only recycling option for organic wastes, AD can reduce emissions from waste and turn these wastes into the resources that the UK economy desperately needs."
“The government now needs to follow up on this promising White Paper with concrete support for the AD sector so it can deliver its huge potential across the UK.”
via Encouraging signs from UK government

3 - Biogas - Anaerobic digestion is central to UK Government policy says Lord Deben 

Lord Deben
Lord Deben is a renowned environmentalist who gained prominence among green groups by introducing the 1995 Environment Act and Landfill Tax when Secretary of State for the Environment in the 1990s. At the ADBA National Conference 2017, he gave the keynote presentation. The conference brings together AD industry stakeholders with politicians, policymakers, and academics to discuss key issues affecting the AD industry.

“We’ve had a long period in which AD has not been given the advantages it should have been given” said Lord Deben. “AD is not just a mechanism for providing energy but also makes an important contribution to the health of our soils. 

AD’s story needs to be told much more widely. AD and bioresources are a very important contributor in the fight to rid ourselves of climate change, improve our soils, and eliminate large amounts of waste”.
AD recycles organic wastes and processes purpose-grown energy crops into renewable heat and power, clean transport fuel, and digestate biofertiliser, which can help to restore nutrients and organic matter to soils.

In a recent foreword for the ADBA’s quarterly member magazine, Lord Deben also described AD as ‘an essential weapon in the war against climate change’ and ‘an increasingly efficient way of completing the system by taking what cannot be reused or directly recycled and giving it real value’. 

The CCC has previously described injection of biomethane into the gas grid as a ‘low-regret opportunity’.

The ADBA National Conference 2017 also featured the launch of ADBA’s AD Certification Scheme, as well as panel sessions on the role of AD in farming, transport, and renewable heat and on different food waste collection systems.

In another keynote session, Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser at Defra, welcomed ADBA’s AD Certification Scheme and highlighted AD’s ability to recycle valuable nutrients including nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous.

For additional information: Refer to the ADBA National Conference 2017... via AD is Central to UK

4 - Anaerobic digestion certification scheme launched

Charlotte Morton, ADBA chief executive said: “ADBA’s new certification scheme defines good practice and enables AD plants to be recognised as meeting it. A certification process is essential to ensuring that regulators, insurers and investors have confidence in the scheme, which offers AD operators a range of financial and regulatory benefits.”
adcs primary logo - anaerobic digestion and bioresources (ADBA) certification scheme

AD certification scheme

The voluntary, industry-led, scheme includes detailed assessment criteria that will allow third-party certification bodies to verify the achievement of good practice at AD plants. It was developed with industry stakeholders, with ADBA calling it the “most comprehensive of its type”.

Marie Fallon, director of regulated industry at the Environment Agency, said: “The agency welcomes the scheme as a positive intervention by the industry to improve performance in the AD sector. We share the determination in reducing pollution incidents which is a risk to the reputation of the industry. We will continue to work with ADBA to share evidence and information to achieving that goal.”

Rick Brunt, head of vulnerable workers, agriculture, waste and recycling unit at the Health & Safety Executive, added: 

“Seeing ADBA’s scheme progress to the next stage is an excellent example of the industry working together, driving improvement of its own standards and expectations.
”I hope that we will see the remainder of the AD industry embracing the scheme with the same level of enthusiasm as those that have worked on its development.” 

5 - Anaerobic Digester Effluent as Fertiliser for Hydroponically Grown Tomatoes

Research Paper Authors: Jacquelyn Neal and Dr. Ann C. Wilkie, of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Florida

Anaerobic digestion of tomato culls produces renewable energy (biogas) and a nutrient-rich effluent. Using the effluent from an anaerobic digester to grow tomato plants could offset the cost of synthetic fertiliser. 

Effluent from an anaerobic digester fed organic waste was analysed for major plant nutrients and used as a nutrient medium to grow tomatoes hydroponically. Tomatoes grown using anaerobic digester effluent had a lower performance than those grown with traditional fertiliser. The predominance of nitrogen in the ammonium form, to which tomatoes are sensitive, explains the observed difference in growth. Means of improving performance of tomatoes grown in effluent are discussed.


As the world population approaches nine billion, food producers will be faced with increasing food production without an increase in field space and with decreasing soil quality. In order to provide enough food for a growing population, synthetic fertilisers are used to provide essential nutrients for maximising crop yields. Nitrogen is one of the key limiting nutrients for plant growth, which is commonly applied as a synthetic fertiliser. Atmospheric nitrogen is unusable for most plants. 

Nitrogen-fixing bacteria maintain a symbiotic relationship with certain legumes and lightning strikes can produce ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen, but the primary man-made process for producing ammonia is the Haber-Bosch process (Smil 2001). This industrial process requires a high input of energy, which presently comes from fossil fuels. 

An alternative fertiliser, such as biofertiliser made from the effluent of an anaerobic digester, could potentially reduce the need for synthetic nitrogenous fertilisers and reduce the energy used in the production process. Biofertiliser would also create a complete system within the anaerobic digestion cycle, which would create a use for the effluent in the anaerobic digestion process. via Anaerobic Digester Effluent as Fertilizer for Hydroponically Grown Tomatoes

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