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Temporary heating solutions for biodigester plants

02 November 2020

If you are not familiar with BioDigester Plants, put simply, they process waste and turn it into renewable energy. The process is called Anaerobic Digestion and with the UK struggling to reduce volumes of food waste, it is providing an environmentally sustainable solution to the problem. 

By sending food waste to Anaerobic Digesters it diverts waste from being sent to landfill and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. They are also reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

Once they are up and running, the plants are generally self-sufficient. However, they do require a helping hand from time to time, critically throughout their startup and this is one of the ways in which Rapid Energy is lending a helping hand.

This article explains in more detail, how the plants work, how Rapid Energy is getting involved and the sustainable fuel option that they can provide.

A Potted History of BioDigestion
Anaerobic Digestion has a long and interesting history and is widely adopted throughout the world. The first known anaerobic digester was built in Bombay, India in 1859. By the early 20th century the technology used in anaerobic digesters was similar to what it is today.

In 2010 the UK Government coalition made a commitment to work towards a zero waste economy. Introducing a strategy in 2011, to increase energy through waste with Anaerobic Digestion.

In 2015 figures showed there were 140 Anaerobic Digestion plants in the UK*, in 2020 this figure had risen to 579, including 88 biomethane-to-grid plants and there are a further 331 Anaerobic Digestion projects under development. This figure could well have been higher, however the Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions have impacted on this. 

In the future, BioDigester Plants could prove to be very popular following Brexit trade deals as farmers may need to look to diversify their businesses and Anaerobic Digestion could be an attractive investment.

Feedstocks that go into an Anaerobic Digester?
Sewage Sludge and Farm Manures and Slurries - These were the initial feedstock for the digesters. By using the digesters farmers can reduce greenhouse gasses being emitted from manure and reduce costs of sludge removal.

Food Waste - As mentioned earlier in the article, we know, food waste is a big issue in the UK and whilst we need to work to significantly reduce the amount of waste we create, sending the waste to a BioDigestion plant is an environmentally sound option. Not only is excessive food waste unnecessary, there is also the issue of waste being taken to landfill sites where it rots and releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas into the environment. 

The UK (as well as other nations) doesn't have the capacity to take endless amounts of food waste to landfill sites. BioDigestion plants help us to make the most of that waste and put it to good use. We do our bit by separating our food waste from our household waste and modern technology does the rest.

Purpose Grown (Energy) Crops - Crops are being grown with the sole purpose of being used in Anaerobic Digesters. There are grants available through the government for farmers growing approved crops for this reason, they include willow, poplar, ash, alder, hazel, silver birch, sycamore, sweet chestnut, lime and miscanthus.

What does the Anaerobic Digester Produce?
• The Anaerobic Digesters produce Biogas (a combination of methane and carbon dioxide) which is used to provide heat and electricity.
• This can be used to onsite and in local factories and buildings.• The carbon dioxide can be removed, leaving methane which is captured and injected into the national grid.• Once the Biogas is captured, the tank is left with a liquid called Digestate. This is a valuable nitrogen rich fertilizer.

How Rapid Energy Can Help? 
Anaerobic Digesters are strongly affected by temperature. When new plants are commissioned they require temporary heating to warm the feedstock. Rapid Energy can provide temporary boilers to provide this heating. 

Anaerobic Digesters eventually become self sufficient. However, Rapid Energy’s assistance doesn’t end there. We can also provide additional capacity, assist in planned boiler switchovers, provide contingency and disaster recovery plans. 

Having Rapid Energy available to assist you can prevent the need to remove contents of the digester and having to start the process from scratch, saving time, money and productivity.

Rapid Energy can also provide a long term boiler rental solution which can help BioDigester investors retain their capital by avoiding large upfront asset costs for boiler plant rooms. Service and maintenance is of course included.

A Greener Solution
Rapid Energy offers the option of using a high-quality renewable diesel, known as  Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) in its packaged boilers. HVO fuel is a form of renewable diesel, produced from renewable and sustainably sourced vegetable fats and oils. The catalyst in the creation process of HVO is hydrogen, unlike regular FAME biodiesel, which uses methanol.

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