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Adnams Anaerobic Digestion Plant

By Sarah Groves, also posted in News on

Tube transfering biogasOn Friday 8th October 2010, John Gummer pressed the 'go' button to deliver the first 10 cubic meters of Adnams Bio Energy gas into the National Grid from our anaerobic digestion plant. The anaerobic digestion (AD) plant is modeled on the principals of how a stomach works except, of course, the plant is vastly bigger. This three chambered 'stomach' converts organic waste (such as brewery waste and local food waste) into biogas, which is then transferred to the National Grid.

The purpose of our AD plant is:

1) Reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill We estimate that the digester will save around 50,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents from landfill. 2) Create gas from renewable sources. We 'decarbonise' the gas grid by delivering renewable gas. The carbon released into the atmosphere from the combustion of biogas was removed from the atmosphere by the plants / animals as they grew. Therefore, if the same amount of organic material is grown again, then the system effectively becomes carbon neutral. This differs to the carbon in fossil fuels, as the carbon has been locked up for around 350 - 400 million years - when this is released it raises the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. [caption id="attachment_7074" align="alignright" width="170"]Engineer inside one of the huge 'stomachs' during construction Engineer inside one of the huge 'stomachs' during construction[/caption] 3) Reduce greenhouse gases Prevent the release of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) to the atmosphere by stopping the waste going to landfill and channeling it to the Gas Grid. 4) Produce natural fertiliser As part of the process, we end up with liquid organic fertiliser that we can supply to local farmers and barley growers - a complete cycle. 5) Eco-power Next year, we will run our lorries using some of the gas. 4.8 million kilowatt hours of gas will be generated a year - that's enough to heat around 235 family homes for a year. 6) Community resource Provide a centre for processing organic waste for local businesses, schools and community groups. There is a charge for this service, but we estimate 5% saving in landfill costs for every customer who uses the facility.

How does it work?

[caption id="attachment_7077" align="alignright" width="250"]The AD plant with solar panels to heat the organic waste The AD plant with solar panels to heat the organic waste[/caption] AD works like our digestive system. When we eat, the bacteria and enzymes in our stomach work to break down food into waste by producing gas and fertiliser. In the same way, the Adnams Bio Energy plant consists of three digesters which are sealed vessels in which naturally-occurring bacteria act without atmospheric oxygen to break down up to 12,000 tonnes of organic waste each year. The result is the production of biomethane and liquid fertiliser. The whole system is closed, so there are no unpleasant by-products or smells.

How did the project start?

[caption id="attachment_7075" align="alignleft" width="250"]The construction of the AD plant in 2010 The construction of the AD plant in 2010[/caption] It was during a Business in the Community Mayday event hosted by The Prince of Wales on the 1st May 2007, that our Chief Executive Andy Wood sat down to talk with Steve Sharratt OBE, Group Chief Executive of Bio Group. Adnams constantly strives to reduce any detrimental impact on the environment. Steve's company specialises in renewable energy, therefore two like-minded organisations got together to come up with Adnams Bio Group.

Getting the Adnams Bio Energy project off the ground

Grants from the European Regional Development Fund, East of England Development Agency and the Department for Energy and Climate Change totaling £1.7m provided vital financial contribution to the construction of the plant. A partnership was formed with British Gas to inject the biomethane into the National Grid.  


Sarah Groves