Digesting the indigestible

Day two of this year's R&I Hub at UK AD & Biogas will have a big focus on indigestible material in food waste. 

Why is this important?

Food waste AD has developed dramatically in the last three years: the volume of food waste processed through the UK industry has doubled to 1.9 million tonnes today. In that time gate fees have tumbled and the economics of the sector have become more challenging, both to existing operators and those developing new projects.

Every step of the process now needs to be as efficient as possible. One important cost to operators is handling packaging material and the compostable/ indigestible liners in which AD operators receive food waste. As well as the cost of removing these items from the waste stream, there is the disposal cost to landfill or incineration. If 5% of the waste a 50,000 tonne plant receives is screened as indigestible material, this would cost the operator £250k/year to dispose at £100/ tonne disposal cost. That is £5m over a 20 year plant lifetime.

Reducing this was a focus at our recent Cost Competitiveness Task Force workshops, and at ADBA we’ve recently received a number case studies from members on how innovation in this area is reducing cost (available on our website library section).

But we want the academic community to work with industry and focus more attention on this area. Could new, low-energy, processes be developed? Could thermal treatment of compostable liners reduce costs and even increase biogas yields? How much peer-reviewed research is being conducted in this area?

What will be discussed at the R&I Hub?

To see if we can answer some of these questions, we have allocated day two of our Research and Innovation Hub at UK AD & Biogas 2016 to researchers and innovators in this field. We want to set the challenge to the academic community to provide solutions to these important industry issues. So if you are researching in this area, respond to the Call for Papers on our website. If not, come along to the R&I Hub and engage in the debate.

We have two excellent speakers on the topic (speaking between 11.30-12.30):

  • Tanja Radu of Loughborough University will be talking about the potential for digestible plastics and how that could help reduce waste, and cost to AD operators; and,
  • HUBER - talking about the state-of-the art process for depackaging and water removal from indigestibles.

This will be followed by a networking lunch at 12.30-13.30. Bring your sandwiches and talk to us about the latest research in this area and others, as well as to discuss the latest research funding opportunities.

Let's make this happen,


Posted in: News for Members

Tags: r&d dissemination, r&i, research and innovation hub, biogas, anaerobic digestion, UK AD & Biogas, uk ad & biogas 2016