Major advances in bioenergy production

A process that uses anaerobic microorganisms and mimics the digestive processes of cattle could change the way organic waste and biomass crops are converted into bioenergy.

Biosource Ltd was set up to exploit the bioenergy anaerobic fermentation process which was developed at the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) in collaboration with Professor Mike Theodorou, formerly of Aberystwyth University, a microbiology expert on cow and sheep gut function.

As Professor Theodorou explains: “The UK creates around 40 million tonnes of organic waste each year much of which ends up in landfills. But with a more sustainable way of life and climate-change high on political and social agendas, the global thrust for new ways of creating fuels from biomass is gathering pace.”

The key distinction between this method and previous anaerobic digestion systems is that until now the development of continuous fermentation processes has proved difficult due to the design (conventionally a tank and not a tube) of the bioreactor.

Biosource has created a system that can deliver anaerobic digestion and bioenergy via a continuous process thereby increasing cost effectiveness as well as scaling possibilities.

CPI’s Director of Sustainable Processes and Advanced Manufacturing, Dr Chris Dowle explains: “Biosource’s technology aims to give that waste a valuable second life by breaking it down in a far more efficient and cost-effective way than is currently available and turning it into energy."

The anaerobic bioenergy process designed by Biosource has been already granted a UK license and has patents pending.

The anaerobic digestion a market is estimated to be worth £4.5billion per year in the UK alone.

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