Optimal use of energy, heat, nutrients and water from food and farm waste (Redivivus)

Lead University: Harper Adams University

Professor Michael Theodorou, Dr Andrea Humphries, Dr Leticia Chico-Santamarta, Dr William Hartley, Dr Matt Reilly

Collaboration: Brunel University London

Professor Savvas Tassou, Dr Yunting Ge, Dr Gabriel Oreggioni

WRK (DGC gas absorption reactor)

Elentec (coagulation technology)


Estimates suggest that between 30-50% of the food grown and imported in the UK is destined to become food waste, accounting 16Mt per year, half of which comes from the domestic sector. It was also quantified that food and drink supply accounted for 152 Mt CO2eq in the UK in 2009 with a further 101 MtCO2eq associated with land use change, contributing to 20% of the British GHG emissions.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a promising technology for food and agriculture waste reduction, enabling as well the decarbonisation of the energy sector because the produced bio-gas can be used as fuel in CHP plants or be incorporated in the natural gas distribution network.

AD plants require the installation of sour gas capture units and treatments for the liquid effluents (digestate of the reactor). Typically, the digestate is stored and spread to grassland. In the REDIVIVUS project, the AD is considered as an energy, nutrient and water recovery plant in which captured CO2 and recycled nutrients are used for growth of fruit and vegetable in greenhouses. This novel efficient integration approach for the AD plant requires the development and assessment of novel technologies for the fuel gas upgrading and nutrient recovery.

Harper Adams University contributes in this project by providing experimental and testing know how for the AD reactor, for novel solvent based CO2 capture configurations for bio-gas upgrading and for low technological readiness level processes used for nutrient recovery (electro and bio coagulation). These experiments will be undertaken in collaboration with industrial partners that are developing these technologies.

Brunel University London (CSEF) is responsible for the modelling of the anaerobic digester; focussing on the dynamics associated with the temporal mass and energy fluxes that are required to estimate the calorific value of the produced fuel gas, the amount of sour gases to be cleaned and quantities of digestate produced. Brunel University is also responsible for exploring different energy conversion technologies, taking into consideration the energy penalty associated with biogas upgrading and the nutrient recovery processes. Results from process modelling will be used for the evaluation of the economic and environmental performance of the novel plant configuration.

Deliverables of this project include:

  • Design of AD plant as energy, nutrient and water recovery systems.
  • Evaluation of novel technologies for biogas upgrading.
  • Evaluation of novel technologies for AD liquid effluent treatments, enabling nutrient and water recovery (electro and bio coagulation).

Process model for the plant and an analysis of the economic, societal and environmental impacts of the technology.

Anaerobic Digestion test facility at Harper Adams University

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