Monday, December 18, 2017

IADAB News - Edition 13: UK Biogas Industry to Push Politicians - 2nd City in Colorado Goes for Sewage Biogas and So Do 2 Distillers

Date: 16 December 2017: This is Issue 13 of the IADAB News Weekly, where we summarise the news of the week in the fast developing Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Industry.


Once again, it has been busy a week for biogas news. ADBA's Chief Executive has been talking about pushing UK politicians to implement sensible energy policies. 

At the same time she has been describing the UK future for anaerobic digestion. 

Therefore, we have included this as our first excerpt. Her presentation follows-on from what Lord Deben has been saying to the UK AD industry, which included the message that the industry should be telling the UK government what future emissions reductions policies it recommends.

Next. we move to the US for our excerpt, where Longmont, the second largest city in Colorado, is going to convert sewage byproduct (sewage sludge) into fuel. We note that this is yet another US city increasing bio-energy production. Not only will the biogas plant be expected to pay for itself quite soon, but the state authorities are also determined to reduce CO2 emissions.

In our third extract we tell our readers about a new microdigester which its manufacturers say will open new opportunities for small-volume organic waste biogas production. We welcome this new player into the microdigester market. For too long the potential of small biogas plants has been neglected in the western economies.

Finally, we have news of two new work-starts on Scottish anaerobic digestion systems, these being at Balmenach whisky distillery, and at the Caorunn Gin Distillery. The Balmenach biogas project will integrate with it’s existing wood-pellet biomass boiler, and when completed, will provide enough steam and electricity for 100% of the distillery’s energy needs.

Alright, let’s get started… (Scroll down for each extract and use the links to the full articles on each of the 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:



*** Video in preparation and coming soon!  ***

1 - ADBA Chief Executive talks about pushing UK politicians to implement sensible energy policies and the UK future for anaerobic digestion

With the dearth of subsidies and volatile political environment, Charlotte Morton shared her views on what lay ahead for the UK’s anaerobic digestion (AD) industry.

Of the ten million tonnes of food waste a year in the UK, six million is ‘avoidable waste’. With the government goal of being zero avoidable waste by 2050, Charlotte Morton still sees a place for anaerobic digestion (AD) in a future, minimum-waste society. We will never be waste-free, so AD will be relevant and increasingly so for places that can supply and benefit from AD facilities, like farms.

However, the present political environment has not favoured AD and with Brexit obstructing any other policy considerations and making the UK less attractive to investors, the industry has to be thinking about viability without such a supportive framework from the government.

“You’re talking about subsidies for an industry that produces green energy and green fertiliser. In the last Autumn Statement, billions were promised to the fossil oil and gas industry. Why are we still subsidising industries that are damaging our environment—damaging our climate—but we’re not wanting to subsidise green as if it’s a bad thing? If we had a proper carbon price we would not need a subsidy and oil and gas would.”
 “If a reasonable amount of investment went into R&D for the AD sector we could absolutely transform the viability of the sector and we’d have no need for subsidies, even in the absence of a carbon price.”

An ADBA spokesperson said that in collaboration with UK universities they estimated that an investment of £50 million over 5-7 years in a centre to develop AD technology would be enough to deliver on a promise of exporting equipment and expertise worth £5bn per year. They also said that the advances made would allow AD to become independent of subsidies.

A shift in mentality is needed according to Morton. She hopes that the government will be forward facing rather than doing whatever is politically expedient, by investing in industries over the long-term with long-term expectations and sustainability.

In a November meeting with the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on the Environment, Sir John Randall at 10 Downing Street, she emphasised the need for renewed RHI regulations and the need for the investment detailed above. Mandatory separate food waste collection by local authorities in England was also on the agenda. via ADBA Chief talks | Bioenergy Insight Magazine

2 - Longmont second city in Colorado to convert sewage byproduct into fuel

A methane flare at the Longmont Wastewater Treatment Plant, where installation of a biogas cleaning system will facilitate turning the methane into usable natural gas. 

Anaerobic digestion at Longmont Colorado
Biogas production will replace flaring
(Adam Butt / Courtesy photo)
Come 2019, Longmont's trash trucks will be powered by an entirely different kind of waste.

When wastewater (anything that gets flushed down a toilet or washed down a drain) comes into the Longmont Wastewater Treatment Plant, organic material is broken down by microorganisms in a process called anaerobic digestion.

The byproduct of anaerobic digestion is methane gas, 25 percent of which goes back into heating the anaerobic digestion process but the other 75 percent is simply set on fire.
"It's the natural gas you get out of your home — methane. But there are a lot of contaminants in that gas so we are forced to flare it," 
said John Gage, Longmont civil engineer. "If you were to burn it in an engine, it would cause all sorts of problems. So it's a resource that, right now, is not being utilized."

Instead, Longmont will install a biogas cleaning system that will turn the methane into usable natural gas by compressing it to 3,200 pounds per square inch.

Once the system construction is completed in 2019, the city will use the biogas to fuel 11 of Longmont's 16 diesel trash trucks. The 11 trucks will be replaced on the existing replacement schedule. The remaining five trucks will be replaced in 2021.

Longmont received a $1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to offset a portion of the costs required for the cleaning system and a $385,000 grant from the Colorado Regional Air Quality Council to offset costs of the more expensive trucks that run on biogas.

Running the 11 trash trucks on biogas rather than diesel will mean Longmont won't use 60,000 gallons of fossil fuels per year, according to a city news release.

Gage said that the stable and cheaper cost of biogas compared to diesel fuel will save the city money in the long run.

"When you look at gas prices right now at the pump, we are seeing $2 to $2.50 per gallon, something like that ... Diesel fuel can get as high as $3 or $4 per gallon," Gage said. "It costs us to treat biogas the equivalent of $1 per gallon. And we can maintain that for the foreseeable future."

Longmont would gain additional revenue by selling Renewable Identification Numbers credits to fuel refiners to meet Environmental Protection Agency obligations to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Longmont would generate RIN credits as they produce gallons of biogas.

Gage said the plan to install the biogas cleaning system lines up with Longmont's sustainability plan by offsetting the use of fossil fuels and beneficially using methane that is currently just being flared.

Gage said there have been discussions with city officials about offering biogas to other entities or to the public in the future.

"What we've estimated is that once converted, sanitation will use 50 to 70 percent of the fuel and we'll still have 50 to 30 percent available," 
Gage said.
"We have already been talking about a possible expansion to do a public fuelling station or reaching out to other government or other interested parties that would be able to use our fuel."
Longmont is the second city in Colorado to use methane from sewage treatment to fuel government vehicles . Grand Junction implemented its system in 2011.

3 - Microdigester Opens New Opportunities for Small-Volume Organic Waste

Ontario, Canada,-based biogas project developer CCI BioEnergy has produced large-scale anaerobic digesters for years, but now it has tweaked a design that can process 300 tons a day and shrunk it to a system the size of a shipping container. The idea is for companies with much lower volumes of organic waste to be able tap into anaerobic digestion.

CCI, which has developed larger systems mainly for municipalities, is introducing their microdigester to food manufacturers, distributors, farms, a university and office buildings.
“Instead of tossing organics [throwing organic waste into tye general waste] or having to pay to have it collected, generators put it in the mouth of this mini digestion unit that will break it down and produce biogas,” 
says Kevin Matthews president of CCI BioEnergy.
“We have the ability to make systems to produce gas for electricity, combined heat and power, or pipeline grade natural gas for transportation fuel.”
The microdigester can process between one and five tons of organic material a day.

This is brand new technology to North America, says Matthews who is about to launch a system for Ontario Water Centre in spring of 2018.

CCI Bioenergy is currently trying to close on two other projects, one at a goat cheese manufacturer to process cheese whey, and one for a university in Toronto to deal with food concessions.
“I had wondered for years why more people weren’t doing anaerobic digestion,” 
says Colin Dobell, executive director of Ontario Water Centre. “Part of the issue was the cost. It was only affordable to larger operators. For others it was cheaper to landfill. … We happened to be a suitable site. We are a nonprofit focused on environmental education, primarily of school-aged children.”
The gas coming out of the centre’s digester goes to a gas upgrading unit and from that unit it can go in two directions: it can either go through a pipe into to a boiler to heat the green house, or through a pipe to fuel vehicles.
“We are doing this to at least break even,” 
Dobell says.
 “But we also want to demonstrate to the public what’s available in the way of clean, renewable energy technology and how it works.”
The microdigester technology comes out of England and is called QUBE Renewable, a modular system to process smaller volumes of feedstocks and wastes to accommodate the generator’s volume, which can be scaled up.

The system can process multiple organic waste streams including food wastes, manure, and human waste.

Having focused on larger systems, CCI put much time into figuring out how to economically scale down the technology, while ensuring its reliability.

The plan moving forward is to develop systems for different industry sectors, engaging in pilot and demonstration projects with host entities such as university, dairy, and supermarket chains.

“We are having conversations with many company types who are trying to get comfortable with how to enter into these new projects,” 
says Matthews.
“We go into this with the objective of trying to show their industries this is a good, reliable solution.  They are seriously considering this as an option that may address the issue of, what do we do with our waste that will allow us to turn it into an asset?”
Energy Vision, a national non-profit that researches low-carbon energy technologies, recently awarded CCI for its work, with its president, Matthew Tomich, stating microdigestion technology could potentially revolutionise organics waste management.
“In the past, if you were a relatively small waste generator, you had to rely on a hauler and a centralised commercial-scale compost or AD facility,” 
Tomich says.
“With systems like the one CCI has, that’s no longer the case. In areas with high waste disposal costs and/or high energy costs, this type of on-site solution may prove economically advantageous. We see great potential for on-site micro AD.”
via Microdigester for Small Waste Generators

4 - Work starts of anaerobic digestion system at Balmenach whisky distillery

Inver House Distillers has started work on a new anaerobic digestion system at its Balmenach distillery in Speyside, Scotland.

The £3m biogas project will integrate with Balmenach’s existing wood-pellet biomass boiler and when completed will provide enough steam and electricity for all the distillery’s energy needs.

It is expected to be operational in the summer of 2018.

Engineering company Synergie Environ is project manager, while Clearfleau will design and build the new biogas system.

Synergie Environ managing director Uisdean Fraser said:
“We believe the project will deliver a malt whisky distillery, which is powered entirely from renewable energy sources with the on-site combination of biomass for the primary heat source and electricity from the CHP powered by biogas from the anaerobic digestion plant.”
Clearfleau chief executive Craig Chapman said: “Based on recent projects, Clearfleau is now developing a more modular plant design, for more remote sites and export projects.” via Bio blend whisky

5 - Caorunn Gin Distillery Gets £3m Biogas Investment

Work has already begun on a £3 million biogas project to significantly reduce the Speyside distillery’s carbon footprint, with Inver House Distillers commissioning a new anaerobic digestion system, which breaks down the co-products of whisky production ... via Caorunn £3m biogas investment

We hope you found this week's anaerobic digestion news informative.

This will be our last edition of the year, and we won't be back with our next edition until 2018. We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers the season's greetings.

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Anaerobic Digestion Central to Goverment Policy Goals UK Climate Change Committee Chair Confirms

Lord Deben at ADBA National Conference 2017.


Lord Deben in his keynote address to the ADBA Annual Conference on 7 December 2017, said that increased production of more renewable energy from the anaerobic digestion process would be central to policy. More Climate Change/ Carbon Emissions reduction goals would be needed for the UK to comply with its existing commitments. UK policy would be further developed, and he expected this would be set-out in more detail during 2018.

Lord Deben is the influential Chair of the Committee on Climate Change and a former Environment Secretary, so these words, coming at the start of the ADA annual conference, were very welcome.

The UK AD industry has been very subdued throughout 2017, part due to a lack of implementation of a promised subsidy restoration as part of the UK Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The other reason for inactivity has been simply not knowing the details in the small-print of the new restored RHI when it is eventually implemented.

Therefore, this was at least some news which brought the hope of increased UK anaerobic digestion plant starts during the latter half of 2018.

However, for the industry to gain the confidence to start again to invest in biogas plants at the higher rates seen over the 3 years to 2017, will depend upon the UK government ending its all-consuming pre-occupation with Brexit negotiations. 

Lord Deben pointed out that throughout MPs and Whitehall, almost all were engaged in Brexit work of some sort. He said that this was leading to the exclusion of other much-needed decision-making.

ADBA Press Release:

Lord Deben Said “AD’s story needs to be told much more widely”

Former Environment Secretary and current Committee on Climate Change Chair Lord Deben has described anaerobic digestion (AD) as ‘central to government policies’ at the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) National Conference 2017 in Westminster.

Lord Deben, 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, gave the keynote presentation at the conference, which brings together AD industry stakeholders with politicians, policymakers, and academics to discuss key issues affecting the AD industry.

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.

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

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.

Perspective

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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Saturday, December 02, 2017

IADAB News - Edition 11: US Anaerobic Digestion and a UK Insurer's View of AD Risks

Date: 1 December 2017: This is Issue 11 of IADAB News Weekly, where we summarise the news of the week in the fast developing Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Industry.
Advances in Anaerobic Digestion in the US followed by Starkly Realistic Legal Views on Insuring UK AD Plants.

This week we have positive news of two US AD Plants, followed by the need to improve UK AD industry's operational record, or else the industry will be likely to suffer high insurance costs or could even become uninsurable.


Alright, let’s get started…

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:




Watch this video on YouTube here: 

Video Transcript:

Our topics this week are the advances in the development of two anaerobic digestion facilities in the US, followed by extracts from a Clyde and Co., breakfast briefing highlighting what are starkly realistic legal views on the risks inherent in biogas production, and how those may have a damaging affect on insuring UK AD Plants in the future.

In our first article extract, we have more from  Michigan State University. They describe how thay have, in their own words "moved the needle on Anaerobic Digestion". And, we are told how A.D. facilities are popping up across the country, including some at college campuses.

Michigan State University, in East Lansing, Michigan, says it is leading the way with their own facility that processes between 20,000 and 24,000 tons of food waste annually to generate 380 kilowatts of electricity every hour for the campus, up to 2,800,000 kwH annually.

Our second article extract is from Massachusetts and Barstow's Dairy Store and Bakery, where they have expanded biogas production, and receive more than 14,000 tons of food waste annually. 

In addition they process  more than 9000 tons of manure a year from Vanguard Renewables farm.

Finally, we include a warning to UK AD plant operators to heed Clyde and Co's, views on insuring the very considerable multiple risks of AD Plant operation.

Clyde and Co. say that, "Going forwards, insurers may wish to consider to what extent AD plants fall within their risk appetite and consider whether increased reliance on survey subjectivities, section limits and exclusions may assist in managing their exposure accordingly."

It seems to be clear that if there are many more heavy insurance claims submitted for AD plant operations in the near future in the UK.

This could easily jeopardise the willingness/ ability of the insurance industry to insure AD plants in the future.
Now read on for this week's article extracts:

Michigan State University Moves the Needle on Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion facilities are popping up across the country, including some at college campuses.
Michigan State University, in East Lansing, Mich., is leading with way with a facility that processes between 20,000 and 24,000 tons of food waste annually to generate 380 kilowatts of electricity every hour for the campus, up to 2,800,000 kwH annually.  
But Michigan State’s influence stretches far beyond its campus where ongoing research in Costa Rica and other South American countries is exploring methods to address challenging waste streams specific to certain regions.
On campus, a lot has changed since the university built its current domestic plant in 2013.
“When we launched on campus, we had a lot of fruits and vegetables. But we lost our produce supplier who went to compost,” says Dana Kirk, an assistant professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering at Michigan State. “We backfilled with milk processing waste.… And, we are working more with fats, oils and greases that we get from restaurants and from rendering plants that take residues from industry. So every year our feedstock has dramatically shifted. And getting the right mix is a balancing act.”
Currently, the university is exploring ways to extract better value from remaining digestate. The plan is to concentrate the nutrients in this digestate into smaller volumes of fertiliser, which can then be used on campus cropland and private farms. 
The process would not only increase product value, but reduce waste in discharged water, consequently cutting gallons that need to be hauled. via Michigan State University Moves the Needle on Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic Digester – Barstow's Dairy Store and Bakery

We receive more than 14,000 tons of food waste annually from food manufacturers, processors, and users such as Cabot Creamery, Geissler’s Supermarkets, HP Hood, Wind River, Cains, Garelick, Amenico, and McDonalds. The Vanguard Renewables closed-loop Farm Powered Organics to Energy Lifecycle combines that food waste with more than 9000 tons of manure a year from the into the farm in the in the 600,000-gallon anaerobic digestion tank.
The tank operates much like a cow’s stomach with microorganisms in the tank converting sugars, fats, and other compounds into biogas that powers a 300 kW engine annually producing more than 2,100 Mwh of electrical energy, 7,040 MMBTUs of thermal energy, and 30,000 tons of odor-free, organic, liquid fertiliser.  The system also sequesters 85% of the greenhouse gases produced on our farm.
With the current expansion just completed, we will be at 800kW. This is in large part a result of the growing success of the Massachusetts’ program to divert food waste from landfills and of an increasing interest from food companies to reduce their carbon footprint.
We now have the ability to produce our own low-cost energy to power the farm and hot water to heat farm buildings and our family homes. The Farm Powered anaerobic digester also provides renewable energy to the surrounding community via the Eversource grid and to the Cabot Creamery/ Agri-Mark Cooperative butter plant in West Springfield, Massachusetts. via Barstow's Digester

Finally, Clyde and Co., while talking to an audience of other insurers, meaning that the following has much to do with the insurance industry becoming more familiar with the risks associated with anaerobic digestion plant operation. They do have a point to make which the industry needs to take very seriously, while they were not addressing this piece to biogas plant operators.

So, we strongly suggest that the following sobering thoughts about insuring anaerobic digesters should also be headed by biogas plant operators.

Our opinion is that new biogas plant owners and operators may not initially fully realise how carefully these plants must be looked after. 

They will be, during commissioning influenced by their contractors. Quite understandably, during commissioning the biogas plant contractors who design the plants, are unlikely to be as willing to starkly highlight the real-dangers when biogas plant operation goes badly wrong, as the insurers will. 

Such disasters as could occur, are unlikely to happen at well-run AD plants, but allow things to get out of control and a biogas plant can do a lot of damage very quickly as has been seen in a couple of high profile UK anaerobic digestion plant installations in the last few years.

Read on and digest what the insurers are saying as extracted by us, and summarised from a much longer document:

Property & Liability breakfast Briefing from Clyde and Co - Insuring Anaerobic Digesters

Clyde and Co. looks at the property and liability exposures associated with anaerobic digesters and considers to what extent an ordinary property and liability policy may respond.
The management, maintenance and stocking of AD plants is, ... complex. Explosion, fire, asphyxiation and disease are inherent risks of the digestion process which need to be carefully monitored. 
In the wrong hands, AD plants are liable to fail catastrophically and can quickly generate first and third party losses. Whilst it might be assumed that such losses would fall outside standard property and public liability covers, this is not necessarily the case. ...
...Some key coverage and liability issues which arise in connection with AD plants under property and liability policies, are as follows:
AD plants can sustain damage because of design and construction errors, both of which tend to fall outside the scope of a standard first party cover.
A damaged AD has the potential to generate costly third party claims. 
Explosion, for example, may result in extensive damage to neighbouring land and buildings, causing business interruption and lost profits whereas an escape of matter from the AD tank can result in contamination of land and watercourses in private ownership.
Whilst a gradually occurring contamination will fall foul of most pollution exclusions, a "sudden" and "unexpected" incident, such as an escape of gas following impact, may be covered by an ordinary public liability policy.
Huge potential for third party claims also occurs in cases where the insured does not own the AD but plays a part in operating it for a third party who sells the biogas produced to the National Grid.
A typical public liability cover will respond to the insured's legal liability to pay damages. However, in the wake of an AD failure, the insured will often incur loss as a result of having to meet the costs of complying with mitigation measures required by the environmental regulator – the Environment Agency.
Whilst AD technology has some significant environmental benefits, it is, on a UK level, a relatively new technology which comes with risks that insureds may be unaccustomed to managing.
Going forwards, insurers may wish to consider to what extent AD plants fall within their risk appetite and consider whether increased reliance on survey subjectivities, section limits and exclusions may assist in managing their exposure accordingly. via Clyde & Co (en)

IMPORTANT: The above extract is a much shortened version of the Clyde and Co., document all readers must read the original pdf before relying on this summary. The authors of this blog take no responsibility for any inaccurate interpretation.

Coming soon: How AD can
mitigate air-pollution and
climate change.
This newsletter author's view is that the above extract highlights the reality that all AD Plant operators owe a responsibility to the AD Community above and beyond their normal responsibilities for their staff and the environment.

That is to avoid further incidents in the UK which could jeopardise the willingness/ ability of the insurance industry to insure AD plants in the future.

We make an appeal to all involved on AD sites to redouble their efforts to act with the utmost care and responsibility in operating their AD plants, seeking expert specialist advice wherever needed, to ensure that their plants don't cause the risks described by Clyde and Co., to become real-life incidents.

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

IADAB News Weekly - Edition 10: Improving Biogas Yield Getting More Out of Anaerobic Digestion

Date: 23 November 2017: This is Issue 10 of IADAB News Weekly where we summarise the most important news of the week in the fast developing Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Industry.

Getting More Out of Anaerobic Digestion

This week we have news from the US, Italy, and the UK. In one way or another all are seeking to get better biogas yields and more out of their involvement in the anaerobic digestion process.


Alright, let’s get started…

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:




Video Transcript:

The first two articles highlight the many and varied ways in which US academia is following on from that in Europe and many other nations, and discovering many new largely un-researched topics, in anaerobic digestion and biogas, which they are now exploring. 

This enables them to work with AD Plant operators to improve yields and reliability, providing educational opportunities for their students, and a service both to their own biogas installations and outside to their local communities.

Also in the case of Michigan University they are conducting research in partnership with the University of Costa Rica, which involves evaluating operating at higher temperatures to produce pathogen-free residue. An interesting possibility here would arise if they were successful. That would mean that digesters could then be operated without the need for additional expensive energy-consuming pasteurising equipment.

In the final paragraph of the Michigan University article extract we are told that assisting the Detroit Zoo, which is now in the early stages of developing a dry digester using food and animal waste, which conveniently leads us into the penultimate article of the week.

That article informs us that HZI is to build Italy’s fifth Kompogas Dry Anaerobic Digestion Plant. Biowaste and green waste will be processed using dry anaerobic digestion and composting. The biogas produced will be upgraded to valuable biomethane, and the digestate will provide nutrient-rich liquid fertiliser and high-grade compost for use in agriculture.

Last, but not least, our final UK article explains in a frank manner why so much university research is being done on anaerobic digestion globally, in an article titled: "Getting More Out of Anaerobic Digestion". That reason is the reality of poor performance, especially from many 
UK food waste AD plants. The author refers to many instances where plants are failing to achieve standards which would be routine within more mature industries.

Some of the barriers which are suggested as preventing better digester performance, are multiple and variable quality feedstocks, over-feeding digesters, and rapid changes in feed material quality. 

Nevertheless, the author points to rapidly improving average UK wide load-factors, so the solution to low biogas outputs, does appear to be on the horizon for the UK food waste anaerobic digestion industry.

Now scroll on down and read the article excerpts described above. Also click through our links, to read the full article versions of those which are of particular interest to you:

1. US College Turns to Anaerobic Digestion to Reduce Carbon Footprint

A college in Vermont, US, is aiming to reduce its carbon footprint by producing renewable natural gas from food waste and manure.

Middlebury College has entered into a partnership with Goodrich Family Farm in Salisbury, Vermont, Vanguard Renewables of Wellesley, Massachusetts and Vermont Gas.

The new agreement will see Vanguard Renewables construct, own and operate a facility at Goodrich Family Farm which combines cow manure and food waste to produce renewable natural gas. Gas produced in the anaerobic digester will be transported by a four mile pipeline to Middlebury College’s main power plant. The college has agreed to buy most of the new facility’s output.


“We are constantly looking at new ways to make our energy sources more sustainable and diverse, and the digester project is a great opportunity to do that,” 

said David Provost, executive vice president for finance and administration at Middlebury College...


“In 2016, the College reached its goal of carbon neutrality. We want to maintain that goal and keep improving on it. The digester will enable us to further decrease our use of carbon-based fuels.”
“The digester offers help with many of the challenges we face as farmers,” 

said Chase Goodrich, who is among the fourth generation of his family to operate the farm.


“We want to diversify our income sources and find new ways to be environmentally friendly. Here in the Champlain Valley, we’re particularly aware of efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain.” 

Currently in the permitting phase, when completed the anaerobic digester facility will produce the largest amount of renewable natural gas of any facility in Vermont. It will process 100 US tons of manure from the farm and 165 tons of organic food waste per day. 

According to a statement, Vanguard plans to source the organic food waste from local and Vermont-based food manufacturers including Cabot Creamery.  via US college turns to anaerobic digestion to reduce carbon footprint | Bioenergy Insight Magazine

2. Michigan State University - Leading the Way With AD Facility, Research Feedstocks, and Provide Technology Transfer

Anaerobic digestion facilities are popping up across the country, including some at college campuses.

Michigan State University, in East Lansing, Mich., is leading the way with a facility that processes between 20,000 and 24,000 tons of food waste annually to generate 380 kilowatts of electricity every hour for the campus, up to 2,800,000 kwH annually.  

But Michigan State’s influence stretches far beyond its campus where ongoing research in Costa Rica and other South American countries is exploring methods to address challenging waste streams specific to certain regions.

On campus, a lot has changed since the university built its current domestic plant in 2013...
Currently, the university is exploring ways to extract better value from [...] digestate. The plan is to concentrate the nutrients in this digestate into smaller volumes of fertilizer, which can then be used on campus cropland and private farms. The process would not only increase product value, but reduce waste in discharged water, consequently cutting gallons that need to be hauled...

Michigan State’s earliest involvement with AD reaches back to 2003 when it secured a grant to build a full-scale plant on a local dairy farm. In 2008 it created an AD research education center, which is a private- public partnership to support the developing industry. The focus is on helping municipalities, other waste generators, and investors to understand how the technology can be used for renewable energy and waste management.

In addition to providing [an AD research education center for] their stakeholders with training and technical assistance, the university’s researchers evaluate feedstocks. They have looked at more than 1,000 waste products from paper plates to grass cuttings to determine biogas potential.

Its work internationally is driven largely by the goal to learn more.

“If we go global we get to stay at the forefront of technology development,” Kirk says. “If technologies are deployed in other parts of the world, we get to see them early and may be able to bring them to the U.S.”

Research in partnership with the University of Costa Rica involves evaluating operating at higher temperatures to produce pathogen-free residue.

Facilities are using fruits and vegetables from distribution centers and have used coffee wastes as feedstock. Currently the work is focused on transforming pineapple liquid waste to energy.

“While Costa Rica’s pineapple industry is important to the local economy, there is increasing concern about impacts on soil, water, animals, and persons,” says Werner Rodríguez-Montero, head of Fabio Baudrit experimental station, University of Costa Rica. “One hectare generates approximately 350 tons of organic wastes.  In time we believe the technology will help us manage this waste as well as that from other crops in Costa Rica and beyond.”
While research involving Michigan State was concentrated in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama were also involved.


“Through this relationship with Michigan State we developed a regional network to transfer anaerobic biodigestion technology from Costa Rica to other countries facing similar problems and in need of sustainable tropical cropping systems. This infrastructure is the only one existing in the region to do research at this scale,” 
says Rodríguez-Montero...


As it continues its work overseas and on campus, Michigan State is looking for more ways to advance the technology and with new feedstocks. 

Most recently it is assisting the Detroit Zoo, which is now in the early stages of developing a dry digester using food and animal waste. via Michigan State University Moves the Needle on Anaerobic Digestion

3. HZI to Build Italy’s Fifth Kompogas Dry Anaerobic Digestion Plant

Swiss waste to energy firm, Hitachi Zosen Inova is to build a new Kompogas plant in collaboration with its Italian partner Cesaro Mac Import in Foligno, a town in the province of Perugia.

Kompgas Dry Anaerobic Digestion - better biogas yield getting more out of anaerobic digestion
Copyright Hitachi Zosen Inova

The firm said that the plant will process some 40,000 tpa of biowaste and 13500 tpa of green waste, producing enough high-quality biomethane to provide energy for up to 2400 households or more than 500 natural gas-driven vehicles.

The plant is scheduled for completion at the end of 2018. Along with the composting technology by Cesaro Mac Import (CMI), the dry anaerobic digestion (AD) technology provided by Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) will form the core of an overall concept aimed at processing and profitably recycling local organic waste.

HZI said that the regional biowaste (SSO or ‘FORSU’) and green waste will be processed using dry anaerobic digestion and composting to deliver the best possible yields. 

While the biogas produced will be upgraded to valuable biomethane, the digestate will provide nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer and high-grade compost for use in agriculture... via HZI to build Italy’s fifth Kompogas Dry Anaerobic Digestion Plant

4. Getting More Out of Anaerobic Digestion

Over the last 10 years, anaerobic digestion (AD) has taken the UK by storm. There are now enough AD plants in the UK to power over a million homes but, even as technology and know-how improve, many are not fulfilling their potential. 

Failing to deliver on gas results in reduced income and missed targets – in effect, the plant operates as an expensive waste management solution rather than an effective renewable energy business. So why has this situation arisen, and what can operators do to improve performance?

...Today, many food manufacturers and local authorities specify AD for residual food waste, but show little interest in how effective plants are.

The best measure for performance is load factor, or running time. Recent years have witnessed phenomenal improvements – even six years ago, average load factors sat at just 46 per cent, compared with 73 per cent in 2016. However, with the most efficient operators reporting levels of 98 per cent, many in the industry still have a long way to go.

The biggest barrier is feedstock. Despite murmurs from central government on separate food waste collections for all households in England – in line with Wales and Scotland – collections currently lie at just over 50 per cent. Similarly, the bulk of commercial food waste collected does not make it to AD either.

However responsibly food is prepared, an element of food waste will always remain, and once reduction and redistribution have been addressed, waste management firms need to actively encourage separate collections and build relationships with AD businesses to ensure food waste meets its potential...

Improving AD Plant Feedstock Dosing

On the ground, improved feeding regimes have a direct impact on gas produced. AD is all about maintaining good biology, and good biology relies on consistency. 

This means sticking to one type of feedstock or, where that is not possible, giving the bacteria time to adapt....

Recent changes to renewables incentives mean that agricultural plants coming onto the market will need to include a fraction of food waste in their ration. 

Based on the current climate, it seems likely that unless waste managers and local authorities do more to drive material to AD, feedstock shortages, and under-performance, will become increasingly acute.  via Getting more out of anaerobic digestion

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