Anaerobic Digest

BioCycle January 2016, Vol. 57, No. 1 p.18

Washington, D.C.: Biogas Opportunities Roadmap Update

Biogas Opportunities Roadmap Progress Report” was jointly published in December 2015 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). It summarizes accomplishments in the biogas sector since the original Biogas Opportunities Roadmap was released in August 2014. The USDA, DOE, and EPA created the Roadmap as a response to the White House Climate Action Plan’s directive to develop an interagency strategy to reduce methane emissions. The Roadmap identified more than 2,000 sites across the United States that produce biogas, as well as the potential for an additional 11,000 biogas systems.

Both policy and technological achievements are highlighted in the Progress Report. On the policy front, farmers interested in developing anaerobic digestion (AD) systems can now “stack” funding from two different USDA agencies to help pay for a wide variety of project costs; the EPA Renewable Fuels Standard now specifies that a certain portion of annual renewable fuel volume requirements must come from cellulosic advanced fuels, which can include biogas and electricity derived from biogas used to power electric vehicles; and DOE has increased its focus on biogas and related products by identifying that wet municipal, industrial and agricultural wastes are a potential high-impact resource for domestic production of biogas, biofuels, bioproduct precursors, heat and electricity. The DOE also expanded the definition of “biomass” to explicitly call out “wet waste (e.g., biosolids), municipal solid waste, urban wood waste, and food waste,” key resources in biogas production.

Technology achievements have included: Development by USDA of a pilot biorefinery at a landfill in California that converts rural and urban solid waste into ethanol, biogas, compost and/or value- added recyclables; two projects funded by DOE to convert biogas into other products — muconic acid, a key building bioproduct and biofuel building block, and lactic acid, a key component in bioplastics that also has potential in producing biofuels; and EPA published a report titled “Food Waste to Energy: How Six Water Resource Recovery Facilities are Boosting Biogas Production and the Bottom Line,” presenting codigestion practices, performance, and experiences of six water resource recovery facilities (see “Boosting Biogas And The Bottom Line At WRRFs,” June 2015).

Ongoing challenges to developing a robust biogas industry were also identified in the Progress Report. These include: developing a North American Industry Classification Code system for biogas to improve loan performance data reporting and reduce biogas financing costs; National Organic Program approval of digestate-based fertilizer in order to open the market in organic agriculture to digestates made by AD systems; and the need to develop low-NOx combustion engines fueled with biogas for ozone nonattainment areas.

Paraná, Brazil: Biogas In Brazil

A fascinating history of anaerobic digestion and biogas use in Brazil is presented in Biogas: The Invisible Energy by Cicero Bley, Jr. and published by Planeta Sustentavel, in partnership with Itaipu Binacional (Itaipu) and the International Renewable Energy Center (Cl-Biogas-ER), the first center of its kind in Latin America, with a focus on biogas. Bley, an agronomist engineer, is Superintendent of Renewable Energy at Itaipu and CEO of Cl-Biogas-ER. The chapter, “A Permanent Scenario For Biogas,” explains that biogas development had two major peaks in Brazil, one in the 1970s and the other in the 1990s, right after the Rio 92 Climate Summit. “In both cases, biogas appeared as the solution and accumulated negative indicators,” writes Bley. Development of the Itaipu Renewable Energy Platform about 10 years ago involved allocating a budget for research and development focused on biogas to electricity generation via a distributed energy network. The book includes case studies of farms that have installed biodigesters to manage manure, with use of the biogas for electricity. To learn more, visit (search on biogas).

Glasgow, Scotland: New Food Waste Diversion Mandate Will Benefit AD

Effective January 1, 2016, hundreds of cafes, restaurants and hotels across Scotland are required to recycle their leftovers in a drive to cut food waste and eliminate tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere. Under a change to the law, any company or organization producing more than 5kg (11 lbs) of food waste each week has to separate leftovers and out-of-date items for them to be recycled, rather than sent to landfill. Previously, the diversion requirement only affected generators of 50kg/wk (110 lbs/wk) of food waste. Companies have been warned if they fail to comply with the new regulation the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency can impose an on-the-spot fine of £300 ($441), while repeat offenders stand to receive penalties of up to £10,000 ($14,725).

Edith Brunton, project manager of the Food Waste Network in Edinburgh, Scotland, will be discussing Scotland’s mandate to recycle food waste in a presentation at BioCycle’s 30th Anniversary West Coast Conference (BioCycle WEST COAST16), April 4-7, 2016 in San Diego, California. Food Waste Network is an innovative service, matchmaking United Kingdom businesses with organics recycling collections. The Network has hosted a series of roundtables to bring together the Scottish waste sector and business community to gain insights into the actual impacts associated with the food waste regulation. Brunton will share lessons learned from Scotland’s experience with the mandate, including how contamination has been managed, compliance and enforcement, and business level benefits.

London, England: Uk Parliament Diverts Food Waste To AD

The House of Commons, one of the legislative branches of United Kingdom government, is sending food waste generated from Parliament’s cafeterias to anaerobic digestion (AD). The representative for the House of Commons Commission, Tom Brake MP, recently responded to a Parliamentary Question about Parliament’s food waste disposal strategy, notes an article in “All catering food waste segregated at the kitchens and food preparation areas is recovered offsite by means of anaerobic digestion to produce methane fuel and fertilizer. We are continuing to identify opportunities to reduce the amount of food waste and to increase the proportion we do generate that goes for recovery. A food waste audit to support this is due to take place later this month in the House of Commons.”

Responding to the statement, the Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, Charlotte Morton, commented to FarmingUK: “In the wake of recent announcements with new waste recycling targets in the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package and the Committee on Climate Change advice on the Fifth Carbon Budget recommending diverting biodegradable waste from landfill, Parliament has shown that it recognizes that anaerobic digestion (AD) extracts the greatest possible value from our inedible food waste — though there may be more they could do to donate unwanted edible food to redistribution charities. If the UK’s waste strategy followed the example of Parliament and all inedible food waste was diverted from landfill and incineration to AD, then the industry could generate enough additional indigenous green gas to power 750,000 homes. Not only that, but nutrient-rich biofertilizer produced during the AD process improves food production and soil quality, reversing soil degradation trends that are estimated to cost the UK about £1.4 billion ($2.1 billion) each year. AD also has a vital role in decarbonizing electricity, heat, farming and transport, potentially reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent. If segregating food waste for AD is right for Parliament, then surely the same principle should apply for the rest of the UK.”

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