Pioneering Anaerobic Digestion process developed by new company
A new process that mimics the digestive processes of ruminants such as cattle and sheep is expected to make a major advance in the way organic waste and biomass crops are converted into bio-fuels.
The innovation is being driven by a new company called Biosource Ltd, which was created through CPI Innovation Services Ltd, the commercial wing of the Centre for Process Innovation, which is based at The Wilton Centre.
Biosource Ltd, which is based at the Aberystwyth University Campus in Wales, will work with CPI towards commercialising the new process.
The company is targeting the growing market in the UK for Anaerobic Digestion [AD] facilities, where organic waste is broken down using a range of micro-organisms and turned mainly into bio-energy, a market which is conservatively estimated to be worth £4.5billion per year in the UK alone.
The Biosource process involves a tubular bioreactor, which was developed at the CPI in collaboration with Professor Mike Theodorou, formerly of Aberystwyth University, a microbiology expert on cow and sheep gut function.
Mike Theodorou said: “The process uses a novel mixing technology and is so efficient that the bioreactor required for the process is of a much more manageable and affordable scale. We believe it’s a major advance in how to create bioenergy from organic waste.
“With our process focusing on bioenergy production from the conversion of cellulose and hemicellulose crop residues and recycled organic waste, there is no need to dedicate agricultural land to the sole production ofbioenergycrops. Appropriatelyprocessedmunicipalhousehold
waste and the crop residues left behind after harvesting for food production can both be used to generate bioenergy, thereby, avoiding the problem of growing crops for fuel that could be used for food.”
The anaerobic process designed by Biosource has been already granted a UK licence and has patents pending.
CPI’s Director of Sustainable Processes and Advanced Manufacturing, Dr Chris Dowle, who is also a Biosource Director, said: “The way we deal with organic waste in this country is simply not sustainable. Annually, we are sending billions of pound worth of organic matter to landfill which could be re-used. Biosource’s technology aims to give that waste a valuable second life by breaking it down in a far more efficient and cost-effective way than is currently available and turning it into energy.”
* Mike Theodorou has also recently accepted a post at Durham University as its lead academic in anaerobic fermentation – with a focus on investigation and commercialisation of new anaerobic fermentation technologies and processes. His position as CPI Chair of Industrial Biotechnology has been specially created to bring commercial focus to new technologies and innovations in anaerobic fermentation.