UK food and drink manufacturers can make significant savings in energy costs and CO2 by generating on-site renewable energy, via anaerobic digestion.
Food production sites can make significant savings in energy costs and CO2 by generating on-site renewable energy.
Organic food waste which is uneconomic to recycle and is normally transported to landfill can be used in a process known as anaerobic digestion, from which methane-rich biogas is produced and used to generate renewable energy.
Simple process schematic for anaerobic digestion
Anaerobic digestion is a four-stage process of:
Organic feedstock is broken down in a heated digester tank by the process bacteria and biogas is produced. The biogas can be used as:
- Boiler fuel
- For greater efficiencies - as the fuel for a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit which generates electricity and heat for on-site use.
Anaerobic digestion and biogas CHP units can provide UK food manufacturers with a sustainable, carbon-neutral source of clean, cheap renewable energy:
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by using carbon derived from an organic source with a short carbon cycle.
Avoidance of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by capturing and using methane in the food waste, that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Displaced energy costs associated with conventional energy from fossil fuels.
Reduced costs and emissions associated with the transport of waste.
Anaerobic digestion can produce other important by-products:
Digestate: expired process feedstock can be used as a high-quality biofertiliser or soil conditioner.
Biomethane: upgraded biogas can be injected into the national gas grid or compressed for use as transport fuel.
These can both provide additional revenue streams for your business.
Things to think about:
Your business might be able to use anaerobic digestion to generate its own clean, cheap renewable energy from food waste
Anaerobic digestion can provide your business with additional income from digestate and biomethane by-products.
Anaerobic digestion can enable your business to save energy and reduce carbon emissions.