Anaerobic means without air. And digestion, well you know how that works!
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a biological process that mimics nature and can be used to treat biosolids or any organic waste. With no oxygen present, microorganisms (bacteria) break down biodegradable material, which generates biogas. The biogas can be used to produce heat and electricity from the fueled engine. Or it can be cleaned to run vehicles or put back in the natural gas pipeline.
This process has been around for a long time. Biogas was captured and used to fuel street lamps in England all the way back in 1895! For many European farmers, small scale digesters was an option to manage their animal waste. Since then, AD facilities have been used throughout Europe for a variety of applications.
While composting was one effective method used to treat municipal solid wastes for many years, the process itself was an energy consuming process. AD, however, is an energy producing process!
The use of anaerobic digesters is becoming more common. This is partly due to increased regulations and pressures put on waste disposal. The process reduces the waste volume while simultaneously generating useful byproducts. It also reduces the amount of organic matter being sent to landfills or incinerators.
There are a variety of digester types and technologies. The type of digester used is often determined by the type of organic waste that will be use, known as the feedstock. To learn more about the feedstock and digester types used in Akron, visit the Akron Operations section!