Keep It Clean - How Can Anaerobic Digestion Provide My Business with Cheaper, Cleaner Energy?

Posted by Clare Burns on 14-Jul-2015 09:00:00

UK food and drink manufacturers can make significant savings in energy costs and CO2 by generating on-site renewable energy, via anaerobic digestion.


How_can_Anaerobic_Digestion_Provide_my_Business_with_Cheaper_Cleaner_Energy_UK food and drink manufacturing is targeting a 35% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.

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:

  • Hydrolysis
  • Acidification
  • Acetogenesis
  • Methanogenesis


Organic feedstock is broken down in a heated digester tank by the process bacteria and biogas is produced. The biogas can be used as:

  1. Boiler fuel
  2. 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.


For more information on the benefits of anaerobic digestion for your business, download our free eGuide: An Introduction to Biogas for the Energy Manager

An Introduction to Biogas for the Energy Manager

Topics: Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas, Food and Drink Manufacturing

Clare Burns

Clare Burns is a technical marketer with many years’ experience in the energy arena, as well as in fashion, telecoms and education. Fluent in 3 languages, Clare has worked across Europe. She currently works for ENER-G, a UK manufacturer of carbon reducing, energy efficient products exporting its cogeneration technology across the globe.