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Research Themes

Current AD research undertaken at Abertay University:

  • Pre-treatment - enhancement of the anaerobic digestion process by preliminary processing of feedstock to promote readily utilisable substances and thereby increasing the biogas production.
  • Process modeling - prediction of various biochemical pathways in the anaerobic digestion process.
  • Adaptation - gradual acclimation of the microbial system in order to tolerate the distinctive conditions, ensuring stability and to reduce sensibility in the process.
  • Co-digestion - at least two different types of feedstock run simultaneously in a single treatment facility to overcome the deficiency that one substrate could impose in the AD process.
  • New Biomass - Macro Algae; Pyrolysis Oil.

Selected Research & Consultancy Projects

Scottish Biofuel Project (ERDF, Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise)
The Scottish Biofuel Programme (SBP) provides a wide range of expertise, engaging directly with small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Scottish business sector, facilitating the conversion of biomass waste to energy; test and implement conversion of biomass waste to energy and the production of sustainable biofuels.
Seaweed Anaerobic Digestion (UK Government) - This study was undertaken to evaluate the biological methane potential of seaweed found around the coasts of Scotland.  The main objective of the research product was to subject the seaweed feedstock to a range of batch and reactor studies to obtain knowledge of the methane potential. It was identified that the presence of inhibitory compounds such as sodium chloride or polyphenolics could affect the biodegradation process of the seaweed leading to a reduction in the methane yield.
Tennant's Wellpark Brewery - This study involved pilot testing a Granular Bed Baffled Reactor (GRABBR) anaerobic wastewater treatment technology to improve the quality of waste water from the brewing process in Glasgow.
Riverside Landfill (Dundee City Council)This study involved the development of novel and effective strategies for assessing and predicting methane generation from a closed municipal landfill. It also involved development of assessing risks posed by landfill sites for various site re-use options.  This study informed stakeholders of the cost/nature of interventions necessary to rehabilitate the landfill site, pursuant to which, the site was transformed into a 35 hectare nature park (Dundee Riverside Nature Park) with views over the River Tay.
Tio Ltd (Interface) - Tio Ltd who specialise in packing organic root vegetables required a methane yield evaluation of their process waste and farm waste feedstocks to assist them to evaluate the feasibility of building their own AD plant.  It was envisaged that a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) plant would burn the biogas with electricity exported to the National Grid and the excess heat generated would be supplied to local companies surrounding the AD development. The resulting digestate would be spread on company owned fields to provide a sustainable source of nutrients for crops. Interface Case Study

Eco ideaM Ltd (Scottish Biofuel Project) - Eco ideaM Ltd with assistance from the Scottish Biofuel Project (SBP) designed a project to investigate the energy potential of pyrolysis co-products that would add value to a standard biomethane production system. The compounds derived from a pyrolysis process are very complex due to their high molecular weight and inability to dissolve in water.  With this in mind a BMP test was undertaken to see if AD would be a suitable methodology to increase the calorific value of pyrolysis co-products before combustion in a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant. 

Macsween Ltd (Scottish Biofuel Project) - Macsween Ltd required a compositional analysis of the effluent water and food process waste generated on their manufacturing site in Loanhead. Once this stage was completed the gas yield of the feedstocks was evaluated with the objective of providing Macsween with an insight into the suitability of AD to manage and add value to their waste outputs.

Recent examples of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) related to Anaerobic Digestion at Abertay University:

Diageo PLC - Building on the expertise held within Abertay University of organic waste management and renewable energy production, Diageo PLC were investigating the options available within their Scottish operation to utilise clean technologies such as AD to manage the residual organic materials created by their distilling operations.

Ivan Wood Ltd - The Food Innovation @ Abertay team and UWTC have come together to assist Ivan Wood Ltd in the design, fabrication and validation of an innovative filtration system that will treat the liquid and solid wastes generated by fresh vegetable preparation and utilise the recovered waste products in new products.

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