The second project of the Hub

To develop a ‘data pack’ on the properties, characteristics, and content of digestate that will provide the context for the development of new uses of outputs from Anaerobic Digesters.

The second project commissioned by the Research Hub is titled 'To develop a 'data pack' on the properties, characteristics, and content of digestate that will provide context for the development of new uses of outputs from Anaerobic Digesters'. The project commenced in May '21 and completed in December '21.

The project outputs include a standalone digestate ‘data pack’ report and a separate digestate valorisation report. 

The ‘data pack’ acts as a reference point for UK digestate characteristics. It comprehensively reports key positive and negative characteristics of UK digestates produced from different feedstock types. Specialist laboratory analysis was carried out, focussing on microplastic analysis and dewaterability of digestates derived from food waste processes.  

Digestate dewaterability results are included within the valorisation report alongside valorisation options that are at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7 or higher, meaning they have been demonstrated under ‘real world’ conditions. The report also presents a roadmap for digestate valorisation in the UK that outlines ‘waypoints’ - areas of focus for regulators, policy makers and the anaerobic digestion industry.  

Motivation(s) for the research being undertaken:

  • Plans to increase the recovery of household food waste in England and Wales will lead to increased feedstock for the anaerobic digestion process, and in turn an increase in the production of digestate
  • Currently, the majority of digestate in the U.K. is applied directly to agricultural land; however, there are limits on the land available and restrictions on application timings and quantities
  • The project is designed to investigate alternative markets for digestates and technologies to develop new products from digestates

The project built on the work of the first project of the Research Hub, and consisted of three phases:

  1. ‘Data pack’ on digestate characteristics - This will include analysis of data from the BCS database and other databases/sources on key digestate characteristics (positive and negative). E.g. Macronutrient content (N, P, K), dry matter content and physical contaminants. The results will be analysed and compiled in a ‘data pack’ document for direct use by BCS participants and key stakeholder.
  2. Identifying alternative digestate uses - To understand the landscape of digestate-derived products and other alternative digestate uses, a Rapid Evidence Assessment of technologies will be conducted. The TRL of a number of technologies for further processing digestate will be considered as well as End of Waste rules and regulatory controls. A structured survey will be undertaken with stakeholders, focussing on understanding whether they are aware of, have implemented or are interested in implementing the specific digestate valorisation options identified.
  3. Roadmap to market - This work package will overlay the identified options onto the UK regulatory and financial landscape to understand which options are most commercially promising to market.

The total cost of the second project of the Research Hub is £57,910.

Any questions related to the second project of the Research Hub should be directed to Olivia Furssedonn, Research Hub Manager, using: olivia@realschemes.org.uk