Work packages
Valorisation of Food Waste to Biogas

FP7- Energy 2009-1 Grant 241334

Duration 1 March 2010 - 31 August 2013

Food waste makes up around 20% of the domestic waste stream in the EU, with approximately equal quantities arising from food manufacture and catering outlets: if food wastes from agro- and food industries are included an estimated total of 200 Mtonnes year-1 is available, with an organic dry matter (ODM) content of around 30%. Because of the high water content of this material, the only effective way to gain energy from it is through biochemical conversion. The approach best suited to this is anaerobic digestion which can achieve methane yields of 400-450 m3 kg-1 ODM.

 The VALORGAS project explores the ways in which this energy potential can be realised through effective collection, pre-processing and optimisation of the fuel conversion technology, and considers how integration of these aspects with improvements to conversion efficiencies can maximise the net energy gains. The work expands our rapidly-developing fundamental knowledge of syntrophic anaerobic microbial interactions, and applies this to the manipulation of reactor conditions in order to achieve stable operating conditions at high loading rates and volumetric efficiencies. It considers methods of upgrading the gaseous fuel product to give an extended range of end user applications and of scales at which this technology can be exploited. The research takes into account issues of biosecurity when using this material, and quantifies the environmental benefits associated with nutrient recycling which can contribute significantly to indirect energy gains. The project combines techniques of waste audit, feasibility study, laboratory scientific investigation, technical-scale trials, plant monitoring, process modelling, life cycle assessment and energy footprinting in order to deliver recommendations for the valorisation with maximum benefit of this energy source as a second-generation biofuel.

For further details please contact: Dr Sonia Heaven, University of Southampton