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jueves, 19 de octubre de 2017

Profile: Micro H2AD – Small-scale fast anaerobic digestion

It has been some time since I published the last post on small-scale biorefining even though I intend to devote particular attention to this topic. It is not always easy to find good contents but I will try it even more energetically in the future. For the moment, I am going to add two new references to the list and issue monographic posts with their profiles.

Today, the first one, Micro H2AD, a novel micro-scale technology for the rapid and safe disposal of organic effluent based on a fast anaerobic digestion (AD) developed by Lindhurst Innovation Engineering (LIE). I expect to publish the post about the second one next week.

Characteristics of the concept

- Modular and scalable. It is micro in scale and fully housed in 20 ft (6,1 m) shipping containers. The scalable system may be employed by the smallest SME and the largest multinational.
- Fast. It enables a 10x reduction in the time required to decrease the organic content of waste.
- Low cost. Lower CAPEX compared to traditional AD. A barrier to recycle waste generating renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions in developing countries and indeed for SMEs in developed countries is the cost of technology. Micro H2AD intends to overcome this barrier.
- It supports the circular economy business model by treating and valorizating wastes. Biogas, grey water and biofertilisers can be obtained during the process.
- Improvements achieved in liquid wastes: reduction of the chemical oxygen demand (COD); removal of total suspended solids (TSS); decreasing of the content in nitrogen, phosphorous and phosphates; reduction of the levels of nitrates, nitrites and ammonia.
- Targeted sectors: food and drink, agriculture and process industry.


Unlike traditional anaerobic digestion plants which require vast storage space and a minimum of 20 days to process the waste, Micro H2AD’s modular system uses a semi-continuous flow process that combines microbial fuel cells (MFC) and conventional AD (see Figure 1). This means material stops in the tank for no longer than 72 hours and low temperature is needed to treat waste and convert organic compounds into methane ten times faster than conventional AD processes. Micro H2AD is based on a patented bioreactor and electrode architecture.

Figure 1. Basic scheme of the Micro H2AD technology (extracted from the web page of the company)

Work methodology

Its systematic approach can be summarized as follows:

1. Audit
Micro H2AD assesses the waste effluent status via a comprehensive audit. Such audit includes analysis of effluent samples to understand standard composition and the potential biogas generation. A preliminary assessment of the potential business case is made.

2. Trial
If the preliminary assessment is positive, a trial is undertaken employing a Micro H2AD trial unit. The trial may run for 3 months or until such a time that a firm business case is established.

3. Sale/Lease
With the business case confirmed, a Micro H2AD system optimised in terms of volume is sold/leased to the customer. The Micro H2AD engineering team manufacture and install the system including all pre and post treatment equipment.

4. Maintenance
Once the Micro H2AD has been commissioned, outputs optimised and training of the plant operatives is complete, the plant is transferred to the customer. Micro H2AD remain on hand to carry out maintenance programs.

Current status

With funding from the Horizon 2020 program (Project: H2AD-aFDPI; Call for proposals: H2020-SMEINST-2-2015; From 2015-11-01 to 2017-10-31), LIE is undertaking the experimental development and field trials required to confirm predicted Micro H2AD performance and payback for several feedstocks of the agri-food and drink processing industry.

Figure 2. Micro H2AD units in process of building (extracted from CORDIS)

The field trials are being carried out within a strong collaborative framework in Spain (ainia), Denmark (Aarhus University / Arla), Ireland (IrBEA – Irish Biogas Energy Association) and UK (Castle Rock - Oakfield Farm). The tests allow to refine the LIE business model for initial market capture and medium to long-term strategies for widespread uptake and market replication.

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