Biogas clean-up research wins recognition for technical excellence

Research undertaken into the removal of synthetic chemicals from biogas has been recognised for its engineering and technical excellence, in a move that will further benefit the anaerobic digestion (AD) sector.

The project, undertaken by Cranfield University, is investigating the most effective methods for removing siloxanes from waste materials which should help improve the cost effectiveness of such facilities.

Siloxanes are widely used to soften, smooth, and moisten in products such as shampoos and moisturisers and in medical implants, building sealants and lubricants.

However siloxanes that end up in wastewater do not decompose in the sewage system and instead contaminate residual waste matter from sewage treatment processes.

They then turn into silicon dioxide, or sand, during the process of burning this waste for biogas, which blocks engines and causes costly damage to facilities.

The award was granted by the Worshipful Company of Engineers and presented to PhD student Caroline Hepburn, who is leading on the project at Cranfield which is being funded by Severn Trent Water.

Meanwhile AD has received the royal seal of approval from the Prince of Wales during a visit to Biogen GwyriAD facility, the first AD plant built specifically under the Welsh Government’s renewable energy policy.

The site will process 11,500 tonnes of food waste supplied by the council from local households and businesses together with additional third party food waste.

AD is also marching ahead in the north of England following a deal between Tamar Energy and Peel Environmental to build up to five facilities.

The plants will be available to businesses and local authorities requiring food waste treatment solutions.

By 2018, Tamar Energy’s 40 plant plan aims to create the first UK-wide network of AD plants and generate 100MW of electricity and gas, enough to power more than 200,000 homes.

The network will enable it to manage large volumes of feedstock from national contractors and offer high levels of scale and flexibility.

Maxine Perella

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