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Integrated biological approaches for high-grade biomethane vehicle fuel production from food waste


This project aims to recover biomethane (target-98%) from the anaerobic digestion (AD) of food waste (FW) using integrated biological approaches that will achieve higher GHG savings, energy and economic returns, and zero-waste production. The objectives are; (i) To investigate by the use of fungi, the biological transformation of cellulosic FW fractions to glucose for enhanced bioH2 recovery; (ii) To estimate by dynamic simulation the energy yield from an integrated FW-glucose-biohydrogen-biomethane nexus for industrial scale-up using Aspen Plus software; (iii) To close the FW AD water loop by the biological recovery of water from the digestate and recycling the same into the AD and (iv) To investigate by an environmental impact assessment, the potential for the commercial exploitation of the innovation. This research is structured within 4 work packages (WPs). WP1 involves the use of the design of experiment (DoE) to optimise glucose production from cellulosic FW fraction using fungi, followed by bioH2 production from the effluent by dark fermentation (DF). WP2 integrates bioH2 produced from WP1 with FW AD to facilitate H2/CO2 conversion to CH4 and will include a dynamic simulation of the process for industrial scale-up. WP3 involve investigations into biological methods for water recovery from the FW AD effluent that forms a holistic approach to achieving a circular economy during FW AD. WP4 will explore the route to market for the innovation through scale-up with the industrial partner, Olleco. This research meets the BBSRC remit requirement within the bioenergy strategic area, which seeks to generate new replacement fuels for a greener, sustainable future. Biomethane gives cleaner vehicle tailpipe emissions and receives twice the financial support by the renewable transport fuel obligation, which will influence the potential for immediate commercial exploitation of the research innovation and hence, the timely delivery of Net Zero targets in the UK.

Dr Cynthia Okoro-Shekwaga
University of Leeds
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