The Cold & High Anaerobic Digestion (AD) group (CHAD) is a network of more than 25 international AD specialists spanning Arctic permafrost to the wet highlands of Scotland to the high Andes. They worked together, virtually and online, during COVID to research and develop methods for organic waste disposal and generation of renewable energy in off-grid situations — particularly cold, harsh and high-altitude environments. An article in BioCycle by two members of CHAD, “Artic Anaerobic Digestion,” described the ongoing research and provided case studies. CHAD recently was awarded funds from NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, which promotes dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO member states and partner countries based on scientific research, technological innovation and knowledge exchange, to hold a technical group meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, March 4-7, 2024. Development of a “mini digester” has already started at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Fairbanks.
The event in Fairbanks will include seminars as well as technical site visits. The science of anaerobic digestion is “deceptively simple” but in truth it needs a concerted research and multi-stakeholder approach to improve, note CHAD members organizing the meeting. Topics to be covered include:
- Biology of the digestion process, particularly at low-temperature, low-input volumes
- Engineering design for quick-build systems with simple operation and maintenance
- Environmental protection and the concept of “leave-no-trace” in fragile environments
- Rapid deployment, e.g., for disaster relief
- Health and hygiene in the integration of the systems to receive and treat potentially hazardous (biohazard) waste, including human waste, in off-grid communities with designs that appeal to users.
Information about the event can be found at this link.