AD success for UK food waste plant


In 2008 Kirk Environmental was awarded a contract for one of the first commercial biogas plants in the UK which was the start of a six-year relationship with the customer and two extensions to the initial plant.

Cannington Cold Stores is a family business based in Somerset, UK, which began storing vegetables for local companies. The business then expanded into providing washed, peeled, prepared and packaged products to UK’s leading supermarkets and today they can offer chilled, frozen and ambient temperature storage facilities with a capacity in excess of 10,000 pallets.

In early 2008 the business were facing increasing energybills and decided to carry out some exploratory research into renewable energy from food waste. Cannington Bio-Energy was established to fulfil their corporate responsibility by producing an affordable renewable energy solution for their cold storage plant through the use of anaerobic digestion and waste management.

Kirk were initially approached to design, supply and construct two anaerobic digestion tanks and two pasteurisation tanks. This was one of the first plants in the UK to also have the digester tanks incorporating with the now industry-leading BIODOME® double membrane gas holder roof to store the biogas produced during the treatment of the food waste ready for conversion to renewable electricity.

The initial project was a great success, with enough energy being produced to not only power the cold storage plant but also to create extra revenue for the customer by being able to release the surplus energy back into the National Grid. This resulted in an extension to the plant in 2011 with a further digester tank and pasteurisation tank being added by Kirk. Now in 2014 Kirk are currently working on a second extension to the site which will see the addition of three more digester tanks and four pasteurisers, all is on track for completion in summer 2014 bringing the total digestion volume on site to an incredible 18,000m³ with a generating capacity in excess of 3.3 MW

By treating the food waste in the digesters and capturing the biogas in the BIODOME® roofs, Cannington Bio-Energy are using the food waste to create renewable energy and doing their part in helping protect the environment. They process a wide range of different wood waste including liquids, plant material and animal by-product, also taking that extra step by separating packaging from the waste and recycling as much as possible. After their successful experience with anaerobic digestion and recycling, Cannington Bio-Energy now also work closely with local authorities, contractors and businesses providing them with valuable advice on how to process and treat their waste.

Tim Roe from Cannington Cold Stores said:

We have used Kirk for all three phases of the development of our plant. Ever since our first contact with them they have been both professional and flexible to their approach for providing the required tanks.The entire tank procurement and erection process has been relatively straight forward and hassle free.

Each digester tank was constructed from glass-fused-to-steel panels, a well-established and proven tank finish which leads the market with quick installation times, low maintenance and long project asset life. The high temperature fusion of glass to steel fired at 850°C results in an inert, durable finish. Applied to both interior and exterior, this technology is able to withstand the rigorous of a construction site and provide many years of trouble free service in harsh environments.

The award-winning BIODOME® double membrane gas holder is a state-of the-art construction with utilises the highest strength membrane available in the global market making it suitable for a wide range of working gas pressures, storage volumes and gas production rates. Produced in the UK with the latest machinery and production techniques enables Kirk to deliver better production time scales and quality controls, always providing the best possible service to customers in the wastewater and Bioenergy markets throughout the world.

By installing the gas holder on top of the digester rather than having it as a stand-alone unit provided Cannington Cold Stores with some major benefits never before experienced in the UK. A ground-mounted stand-alone gas holder would require a concrete base to be built on and additional pipework to connect it to the digester tank which would have needed to be constructed with a steel roof. All of these extra requirements would have had a significant impact on the capital cost of the project. A top-mounted gas holder also results in further reductions to a project foot-prints and a lower maintenance regime. The outer membrane of the gas holder is constantly inflated by utilising electrically operated blowers. When gas production exceeds the rate of use, the internal membrane rises and vice versa, when the gas usage exceeds the rate of production, the internal membrane falls, with the air pressure inside the air compartment maintaining the system pressure.

Andrew Peace, Managing Director at Kirk Group, commented:

We are delighted to have involved in the development of the Cannington Bio-Energy facility over the last few years.


Our team has worked closely with the customer to understand their plans and technical requirements and to ensure that the items of the plant provided by KIRK were delivered on time and within budget. Hopefully we will continue our involvement for many years to come and support Cannington Cold Stores through any future stages of development and upgrading.

Taking a leading stand at this year’s UK AD & Biogas Exhibition at the NEC Birmingham, Kirk Environmental is currently the only UK company in a position to offer an unbiased opinion on the subject of tank selection thanks to an industry-leading product portfolio which includes: glass-fused-to-steel tanks, epoxy coated steel tanks, poured in situ concrete tanks, pre-cast concrete tanks, biogas storage and in-house manufactured steel fabrication.

Posted in: ADBA News, Industry News, Members' press release, News for Members, Policy updates, R&D Updates

Tags: gas holders, project extension, tanks