Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic Digestion is the process in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen to produce biogas and digestate. On a commercial level there has been considerable investment in setting up large scale Anaerobic Digestion plants across the United Kingdom to handle organic waste of the domestic household variety and from the Food and Agricultural sectors. Incentivised at both national and local level these facilities are taking the waste as a feedstock and turning it into Biogas and Digestate. The Biogas is burnt to produce heat and “Green” electricity that both power their sites and supply the National Grid while the Digestate is marketed as a fertiliser for sale to farms. Almost all organic materials can be processed by anaerobic digestion with the exception of woody material that contains high levels of lignin which most anaerobes cannot degrade. Common feedstocks used in this process include silage, animal waste, food waste, sewage and waste paper. In addition, other high energy feedstocks such as molasses and glycerine can be used to provide a readily available source of added carbohydrates to stimulate microbial activity. The added benefit of using molasses compared to glycerine is that molasses also contains a valuable source of vitamins and minerals.

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