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Biogas rural or farm's waste
Raw material

Biogas yield m3/t of raw material

Cow manure
Pig manure
Chicken dung
Distillery slop
Silage, plant tops, grass, algae
Milk whey
Fruit and sugar beet pulp
Technical glycerin
Brewer’s grains
Biogas from Municipal Household waste

Why are we excited about Anaerobic Digestion just now?
A remarkable combination of recent technical, political and regulatory factors is starting to propel AD forward toward the mainstream. Some of these factors are:-

  • Rising oil prices: Suddenly traditional energy sources are so much more expensive. In the past AD was a much more expensive energy source, and to be honest it remains so when all capital spend up-front is considered, but the gap is narrowing toward mainstream take-up of AD, and fast.
  • Farm waste requires better management: As from June 30, 2006 the EU Waste Management rules apply to farming and agriculture, and their historical exemption has been removed.
  • Organic waste must be diverted from landfill: This is the result of the EU landfill Directive and AD is an excellent technology for organic waste landfill diversion.
  • The demand for new sustainable technologies investment opportunities powered by individuals but increasingly manifested in actions and investments by large companies and big investors. (January 2007 has seen the big supermarkets in the UK talking about using renewable energy technologies in their stores, including Anaerobic Digestion).
  • Rising demand for renewable fuels and bioenergy: This includes government targets and incentives to Anaerobic Digestion which the United Kingdom and other governments provide to help them meet the targets.
  • the availability of Carbon Credits to those who avoid Carbon Dioxide emissions: The developing world has been able to apply and obtain CER credits for nearly two years, and under the new US proposals (including the Methane to Markets project) it seems that the US may be soon paying carbon subsidies even to the developed nations where carbon emissions reductions are achieved in carbon neutral, and negative projects such as Anaerobic Digestion.

Main Source Materials for Anaerobic Digestion (Temperate Climates)

  • Catering waste from private households
  • Food residues
  • Restaurant and canteen residues
  • Farm manure (e.g. liquid manure, dung)
  • Vegetable residues from commerce and trade
  • Waste water from food production
  • Grease trap fat
  • Specially grown raw material - biofuel (e.g. clover) See also our bigger list here.

Products of Anaerobic Digestion

  • A gas: Methane - a fuel.
  • Solid fibrous material; which is spread without further treatment, or after post composting (maturation), to provide organic matter for improvement of soil quality and fertility (improves soil structure and reduces summer irrigation demand).
  • The liquid fraction contains two thirds of the nutrients and can be spread as a fertiliser and sprayed on crops.
  • Co-composting on farms - liquid and solid fraction is mostly not separated and is spread as a slurry.

A Comparison of Anaerobic Digestion with Composting


Anaerobic Digestion


Space requirement (footprint)






Energy balance

Energy surplus

Energy demand

Biogas production

100 – 150 m3/Mg


Process time required to produce mature compost

3 weeks digestion, plus
5 weeks composting

12 weeks

Comparison Table From: “Introduction to Anaerobic Digestion”,Wolfgang Muller and Axel Huttner, ORA - Organic Resource Agency Ltd., Malvern Hills Science Park, Geraldine Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3SZ, and IGW – Ingenieurgemeinschaft Witzenhausen Fricke & Turk, and GmbH, Bischhuser Aue 12, D-37213 Witzenhausen, Germany. Presented at the Biowaste: Digesting the Alternatives Seminar, April 2005, UK.

Usable wastes for this system:
- Municipal solid waste
- Sewage sludge

Products of this system:
- Recycable materials such as metals, paper, plastics, glass etc.
- Organic fertilizer (separate collection of organic waste)
- Unusable materials prepared for their unharmful final deposit
  (compaction > 1.3 t/m³)
- Carbon credits – additional revenues
- High calorific fraction (refuse derived fuel – RDF) – additional revenues

Further advantages:
- The finally deposited waste is inert
- Reduction of the waste volume to be deposited to at least a half
  (density > 1.3 t/m³), thus the lifetime of the landfill is at least twice
  as long as usually
- Utilization of the leachate in the process
- No unbidden guests such as birds, dogs, vermin, rats on site
- No additional facilities for the collection and combustion of biogas
   as there is no biogas
- Daily covering not necessary
- Aftercare 3 to 5 years

Waste management concepts

There are a number of concepts about waste management which vary in their usage between countries or regions. Some of the most general, widely-used concepts include:
Diagram of the waste hierarchy.

Diagram of the waste hierarchy.

  • Waste hierarchy - the waste hierarchy refers to the "3 Rs" reduce, reuse and recycle, which classify waste management strategies according to their desirability in terms of waste minimization. The waste hierarchy remains the cornerstone of most waste minimization strategies. The aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste.
  • Extended producer responsibility - Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a strategy designed to promote the integration of all costs associated with products throughout their life cycle (including end-of-life disposal costs) into the market price of the product. Extended producer responsibility is meant to impose accountability over the entire lifecycle of products and packaging introduced to the market. This means that firms which manufacture, import and/or sell products are required to be responsible for the products after their useful life as well as during manufacture.
  • Polluter pays principle - the Polluter Pays Principle is a principle where the polluting party pays for the impact caused to the environment. With respect to waste management, this generally refers to the requirement for a waste generator to pay for appropriate disposal of the waste.

Solid waste management cost for selected cities

Solid waste management cost for selected cities (map/graphic/illustration)

Click here, or on the graphic, for full resolution.
Solid waste management cost for selected cities. As garbage piles up, however much space we set aside for landfill, we are beginning to realise that producing waste at this rate is no longer viable. It is time for the three “Rs”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and integrated waste management. Waste management strategies are as diverse as waste itself. But whatever we do there is no escaping the “waste of waste” (unless we rein in our greed and buy less).

 Municipal solid waste generation for selected large cities in Asia

Municipal solid waste generation for selected large cities in Asia (map/graphic/illustration)

Click here, or on the graphic, for full resolution.
Municipal solid waste generation for selected large cities in Asia. Municipal waste is everything collected and treated by municipalities. Only part of it is comes from households, the rest is generated by small businesses, commercial and other municipal activities. So it is produced from both consumption and production processes. Like all waste, municipal waste is on the rise and it is growing faster than the population, a natural result of our increasing consumption rate and the shortening of product life-spans. According to various scenarios, it will most likely continue for the next decades – but at a slower pace for those countries that can afford advanced waste management strategies. As 1.3 billion Chinese thunder into the great pleasures of consumption, municipal waste is certainly a major environmental concern.

Information and communication technology expenditures

Information and communication technology expenditures (map/graphic/illustration)

Click here, or on the graphic, for full resolution.
Information and communication technology expenditures. The high tech boom has brought with it a new type of waste – electronic waste, a category that barely existed 20 years ago. Now e-waste represents the biggest and fastest growing manufacturing waste. The black and white TV turned to colour, the basic mobile phone needed a camera, personal organizer and music, and who wants last year's computer when it can't handle the latest software? As we continually update and invent new products the life of the old ones is getting shorter and shorter.

Contribution from waste to climate change

Contribution from waste to climate change (map/graphic/illustration)

Click here, or on the graphic, for full resolution.
Contribution from waste to climate change. The disposal and treatment of waste can produce emissions of several greenhouse gases (GHGs), which contribute to global climate change. The most significant GHG gas produced from waste is methane. It is released during the breakdown of organic matter in landfills. Other forms of waste disposal also produce GHGs but these are mainly in the form of carbon dioxide (a less powerful GHG). Even the recycling of waste produces some emissions (although these are offset by the reduction in fossil fuels that would be required to obtain new raw materials). Waste prevention and recycling help address global climate change by decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and saving energy.

Causes of sea level rise from climate change

Causes of sea level rise from climate change (map/graphic/illustration)

Click here, or on the graphic, for full resolution.
Causes of sea level rise from climate change. A significant sea level rise is one of the major anticipated consequences of climate change. This graphic explains the causes of sea level change according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It explains the IPCC's A1 scenario family, which consists of three scenarios on future use of fossil energy sources, including scenario A1F1, which involves the use of fossil-intensive energy sources. This resource also includes the graphic 'Components of Mean Sea Level Rise for the Scenario A1F1' which shows the projected sea level rise in metres by 2050 and by 2100 for Greenland, glaciers, expansion, the Antarctic, and the total sea level rise.

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