Utility-university partnership to fine tune AD

A partnership between University of York researchers and Yorkshire Water (YW) will work to optimise next-generation anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities, it was announced in August.

The utility has funded “System-60”, a new set of 60 five-litre, automatically-fed, temperature-controlled anaerobic digesters in the Department of Biology at the university. The system will provide data enabling Yorkshire Water to ‘fine-tune’ its AD operations.

System-60 is specifically built for the project and is likely to be the largest AD facility of its kind anywhere in the world, according to the University of York.

Other participant inputs to the project include custom-made sensor equipment designed and built by the university’s Biology Mechanical and Electronics Workshop, and specially developed software written by undergraduates from the Department of Computer Science.

University researchers will be managing System-60 on campus, in addition to monitoring Yorkshire Water’s recently refurbished pilot AD facility located at the nearby Naburn Waste Water Treatment works.

Professor James Chong from the Department of Biology is leading the research. He said: “The goal of the project is to increase the conversion of solid material into gas so that more sewage sludge can be processed using the same facilities, reducing the need to build more infrastructure.

“System-60 will be used to screen conditions and the pilot rig will then be used to demonstrate the benefits of the best conditions at a larger scale to build a case for operational changes within YW’s business.”

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