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July 2010

Anaerobic Digestion – Realising the potential. Government invites discussion on the future of energy from waste, 6 July [1] Anaerobic digestion is a process for turning food, farm and other organic waste into energy and fuel. The UK produces about 100 million tonnes of this waste each year which could instead generate up to 7% of the renewable energy required in the UK by 2020. topic

  • Biomass waste such as animal manure, sewage sludge and waste food can be digested in the absence of oxygen to produce a methane-rich biogas which can be used to generate heat and power for industry and homes, or to provide a transport fuel. The biogas can be upgraded to biomethane which is potentially suitable for injection into the National Gas Grid.
  • Anaerobic Digestion can be carried out in a small scale system, for example located on a farm, or at a business producing large volumes of food waste. Alternatively it can be carried out in large centralised systems, for example at sewage treatment works, or to treat municipal food waste, or manures and slurries from several farms.
  • The diversion of biodegradable wastes to anaerobic digestion can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfill. Digesting one tonne of food waste rather than sending it to landfill will save between 0.5 and 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent.
  • There are currently around 37 anaerobic digestion plants in the UK using food and farm waste, with around 60 planned or under construction. A further 220 water treatment plants have anaerobic digestion facilities for sewage.

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  1., 6 July 2010
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