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Combining Anaerobic Digestion & Intermediate Pyrolysis

The first technology as part of BioenNW has been installed at Harper Adams University (HAU) in Shropshire, UK. A Pyroformer™ (developed by EBRI researchers) is operational on the HAU campus and extensive testing has been taking place since April this year. The tests have enabled BioenNW to look at the integrated operation of intermediate pyrolysis and anaerobic digestion at a commercially operational site. HAU’s anaerobic digestion plant currently provides 75% of power for its campus. The addition of a Pyroformer™ enables this to be increased to 100%.

Tests have shown that the 100kg/hr Pyroformer™ has performed well with few problems arising. Any problems encountered have provided valuable lessons for and have been dealt with swiftly. The Pyroformer™ has been operational for over 200 hours. Significant feedstock tests have been conducted. Dried anaerobic residue, sewage sludge, husk from rice, wheat, barley, oil pressing cake from rape, soy bean, cocoa butter, olive, sunflower, straw from rape, wheat, rice, miscanthus, wood, algae, corn residue, meat and bone meal, residues from composting, grass, spent brewers grain and tyres are all able to be processed by the Pyroformer™.

Data is being collected on the energy produced, quality of the by-products, emissions, gas quality and costs and the HAU demonstration site is also being used for technical training and information dissemination. Research into boosting biogas yields using the aqueous liquors from the Pyrformer™ is also being undertaken. Returning the water phase of pyrolysis to the anaerobic digestion process can boost gas yield and therefore increase energy output.

Many interested parties from all five countries have visited the demonstration site where they have been able to see the technology in operation, with visitors including Anthea McIntyre MEP. The Pyroformer™ is moving to the Aston University campus where it will be operational as a demonstrator in the new European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) building from March 2013.

Words by Louise Russell, European Bioenergy Research Institute, Aston University, UK