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AD research – what are the industry priorities? (Ellen MacArthur)

ADBA has long been encouraging collaboration between academia and the AD industry.

Since taking on this role I've discovered just how much research is being conducted by academia on all aspects of the technology from genetics to digestate to siloxanes measurement.

From the R&D Forums that we organise each year we have built a high-level picture of the sector priorities that we think require further research:

  • Process optimisation – increasing gas yields, reducing retention time, microbiology and biochemistry
  • Feedstock pre-treatment technologies
  • Use of novel feedstocks such as algae and wild flowers for AD
  • Life-cycle analyses of using different feedstocks for AD and comparisons against fossil fuels
  • Integration of AD with other technologies to produce multiple products through biorefining 
  • Production of alternative gases such as hydrogen and high-value products
  • Adding value to digestate
  • Micro-scale anaerobic digestion
  • Reuse of CO2 in hortilcutural greenhouses
  • Odour measurement and mitigation

This is what we push for when liaising with organisations such as Innovate UK, who I met a couple of weeks ago to talk about funding for the AD sector.

We've also now been approached by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (who we work with to develop the circular economy) to ask what research their academic members should be doing to support the move towards a circular economy.

I'd therefore like ADBA members to quickly review the above list and let me know if you think the above research needs are the sector priorities. What else could be included? Are some of these not needed?

DECC of course told us that they thought reductions in the Feed-In Tariff should be acceptable to the industry because they thoughts cost reductions could be brought about through innovation. Would research in these areas help in the long term?

As well as these high-level priorities, are there also specific R&D projects that you think need to be supported?

Please let me know – or 020 3567 0751.

Responses by Friday 21 November please.

Many thanks


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