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R&D Update



peakers at our ADBA R&D Forum 2015 (see full review opposite) discussed some of the new feedstocks which may become suitable for AD with technological advances. These include macroalgae

(eg seaweed) grown or collected off the coast; microalgae grown using digestate; wetland biomass (reeds) and other high-lignin feedstocks; hydrogen; and organic co-products from advanced agriculture, such as aquaculture and the greenhouse sector. Advanced agriculture in particular has the potential to make use of the waste carbon dioxide, water and heat from biogas combustion, as well as the nutrients and water in digestate to support plant growth, thus increasing yields or reducing conventional input costs. We have therefore revised our assumptions about the amount of methane the industry could produce in a supportive environment, and now believe that 80 TWh of gas is achievable.

parts. This is currently uneconomic but some industry experts are expecting the UK to produce, at certain times, more electricity than we are using, due to the amount of wind and solar capacity connecting to the grid. We will therefore have, at certain high supply and low demand periods, very cheap or free electricity. This can then be used for electrolysis to produce hydrogen,

The use of hydrogen in AD has the potential to turn much of the carbon dioxide produced as part of the AD process into more methane. Hydrogen can be produced from the electrolysis of water – splitting H2

O into its constituent

For information and advice on our R&D activities, contact our Market Analyst, Ollie More T +44 (0)203 567 0751 E

which in turn can be used with waste carbon dioxide from anaerobic digestion to produce methane. If adopted (the technology already exists), could we increase methane yields per tonne of feedstock from 60 per cent to 90 per cent? The answer depends on a number of factors, such as the scale at which this technology can be adopted and how the electricity market develops. However, with favourable conditions, it could generate an extra 27 TWh of gas.

Another critical area is whether pre-treatment technologies such as steam explosion, thermal hydrolysis and dry AD can bring high-lignin feedstocks such as straw and garden waste into the market. If so, we have a lot more to offer than has previously been estimated.

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