The Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Large Scale Pilot plant is available as a plug-and-play facility for research into anaerobic digestion. Read more Read less

The demonstrator is of a modular construction and mounted on skid-type frame assemblies. The mixed feed tank has a capacity of 0.5m3, the mixed and heated primary digester capacity is 1.5 m3 and the secondary digester is 1m3. The produced biogas is then collected in a 40m3 3-membrane biogas holder, which is also linked to two gas engines.

Supporting this plant are a number of ancillary laboratory facilities, which can determine residual methane potentials, contaminants, gas upgrading and feedstock optimisation.

The facility has been jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cranfield University. The AD units have been donated by Shanks Waste Management.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) processes are a sustainable way of treating organic waste. These processes rely on the action of anaerobic microorganisms to degrade the organic content of waste and/or wastewater sludge. AD has a number of useful outputs such as: biogas, heat and sludge/digestate.

The treatment of the organic material through AD has the potential for significantly reduce the amount and the disposal costs of sludge/digestate, to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and to generate renewable energy, all priority targets in the EU, USA and other G8 nations.  

AD is regarded as a low carbon process as it uses biodegradable organic materials as the feedstock, i.e. typically non-fossil fuel sources, and produces methane which can then be consumed for energy releasing largely CO2 and water.  The reason it is considered low carbon is that the carbon source is a renewable feedstock as opposed to fossil fuel.


Summary of applications

  • Upscaling of small-scale research outcomes
  • Identifying optimal feedstock mixing
  • Testing the effectivity of feedstock pre-treaments
  • Optimising gas upgrading technologies.

Using the facility

  • This unique project combines Cranfield University’s world class biological and thermal engineering expertise with in-depth process and economic knowledge of AD and thermal energy.

  • The demonstrator technologies and “plug and play” facilities are located in the Energy Technology building on the Cranfield campus.

  • Uniquely, this project will provide an integrated facility for SMEs to use as a ‘plug-and-play’ opportunity for research and development.