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PI: Thompson, Ian

Department: Engineering Science

Generation of high value products and biogas through anaerobic digestion (AD) is used as a sustainable and renewable form of energy generation to power as an alternative to coal or gas. Crops grown specifically for biofuels such as maize and miscanthus grass are commonly used as AD feedstocks in the UK and Europe. However, these feedstocks are rich in lignocellulosic material that take a long time to be broken down by bacteria during the process (if they can be broken down at all). This slow breakdown, hydrolysis, is the rate limiting step in the process and determines the time taken to generate biogas. Through the physical processing and separation of agricultural waste residues (maize & grass) into the separate components of lignin and cellulose, this project will create and test a multi-step process to improve hydrolysis rates, thus leading to more rapid biogas production. The scaled-up testing and data generated from this project will demonstrate that the technology is ready for deployment in commercial AD plants in collaboration with the project industrial partners, Alps Ecoscience.

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