Electricity pylons
Electricity pylons

A new Anaerobic Digestion Pilot Plant facility will be opened next week (16 October 2014) at Cranfield University.

The Bio-Thermal RED project is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported by Shanks Waste Management. Cranfield’s anaerobic digestion (AD) plant will support the UK’s contribution to the European Union target of 20% of energy to be supplied from renewable sources by 2020.

Sir Peter Gregson, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield said: “We are delighted to officially open the Anaerobic Digester plant. This celebration reflects our desire to work closely with business, through such work, to provide a positive impact on society. This specialist plant is another example of industrial scale facilities, for which Cranfield University is renowned. It reinforces Cranfield’s commitment to sustainability which is reflected in our accreditation to ISO14001 environmental management systems”.

The facility at Cranfield will divert up to 10 tonnes of food waste from landfill annually and save up to 5 tonnes of total potential carbon dioxide annually; and at the same time produce up to 8 tonnes of fertiliser each year.

Anaerobic digestion is a series of natural biological processes whereby organic waste material – known as feedstock – is broken down by micro-organisms and converted into energy, known as biogas (a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane).

A by-product of the AD process is digestate which is a stable, nutrient-rich substance that is most commonly used as a renewable fertiliser or a soil conditioner.

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. This has created a demonstration facility for biological and thermal renewable energy technologies for research students and set-up a knowledge and networking hub for SMEs (small and medium size enterprises), involved in bioenergy, in the East of England. The project has created two jobs and to date has supported over 20 East of England SMEs through a series of topical workshops and company specific project-based support.

Notes for editors

Bio-Thermal RED provides unique test facilities to de-risk key technologies and a knowledge hub, which will facilitate innovation in design, integration, operation and maintenance of AD and thermal processes in the region.

SMEs in the East of England can get access to these facilities and expert consultancy through an ERDF/EEDA grant via Cranfield University.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Energy and Power at Cranfield

Cranfield has been a leader in energy and power for 20 years. Our expertise includes low carbon energy supply, power generation, advanced fossil fuel technologies and transport systems. Our teaching and research covers offshore renewables, oil and gas engineering, the production and clean utilisation of fossil fuels, combustion and power generation through to bioenergy and the utilisation of wastes as fuel.

We have long-standing strategic partnerships with Alstom Power, BP, Centrica, Chevron, Doosan Babcock, Dong Energy, Petrofac, Rolls-Royce, Shell, Siemens and many others.

Our world-class facilities include the Structural Integrity Laboratory, which has a wide range of equipment to study the mechanical behaviour of components and material samples up to 250,000 tonnes and has machines unique to any university in Europe, and the Ocean Systems Test Laboratory, designed for model testing at the early stage of marine renewable projects.