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Farm and Agriculture Stabilised Thermophilic Anaerobic Digestion

Final Report Summary - SMART TANK (Farm and Agriculture Stabilised Thermophilic Anaerobic Digestion)

Executive Summary:
EU farmers face significant costs related to the management and disposal of on-farm organic waste arisings such as manures and slurries through having to comply with specific EU legislation such as the Nitrates Directive and the Landfill Directive. Rising waste disposal costs have been cited as a contributing factor to the estimated closure of 7,000 EU farms per annum.

The project consortium consisted of five SMEs in the beginning and four SMEs at the end of the project who manufacture and supply a range of equipment for anaerobic digestion (AD) systems in agricultural, wastewater treatment and municipal waste management markets. Whilst AD-based markets are growing in Europe and are expected to continue to grow, they are dominated by larger enterprises. Eight companies provide 80% of the municipal solid waste market in the EU which makes competition on a cost basis difficult.

The bigger part of the existing technologies for the anaerobic digestion of agricultural waste at the farm-scale are based on mesophilic processes and have a number of associated limitations, such as the requirement for co-digestion with a high percentage of energy crops, a high capital equipment cost and a long payback period. To solve this problem the Smart-Tank project will develop a reliable low-cost and low-maintenance farm scale thermophilic AD system with closed-loop control that will give us a clear technology differentiated product. Running the Smart-Tank under thermophilic conditions offers several benefits to farmers:

• Standalone operation.
• A higher biogas yield can be realised and a higher percentage of manure and slurry in the feedstock can be processed.
• Faster rate of digestion.
• Have a payback period of less than 6 years.

The development of the Smart-Tank system will allow our SME consortium to compete in the growing market in Germany, France and the UK for agricultural AD technology and the estimated €2.13Bn EU market for the AD of municipal solid waste.

Project Context and Objectives:
The project has the following specific objectives:
Managing the inhibitors of thermophilic AD
• Characterise organic waste arising from 3 representative EU farms to enable management of feedstock characteristics, with particular focus on the C/N ratio.
• Understand the limitations of near infrared spectroscopy as a sensor for AD and appraisal of options for actuators.
• Assess techniques to control the concentration of process by-products which could inhibit process in the central zone.

Standalone operation and optimisation of biogas production
• Integrate closed-loop automation and control.
• Enable on-line operational control of reactor temperature within +/- 2oC.
• Enable on-line operational control of reactor alkalinity within +/- 1000mg/l-1.
• Allow control of process inhibitors within the central zone.

Demonstration and proof of concept in a Smart-Tank prototype system
• Set up of a prototype system at the Husberg farm site, Northern Germany.
• Validation of the measurement and online-control systems.
• Demonstrate the functionality and dependability of the system using the prototype.
• Show that the system is able to optimise feeding and fermentation to increase the value added by the operating farmers.


Project Results:
Work Package 1 – Design specification for prototype development

T1.1 – Characterisation of farm organic waste arisings
Based on the results won in the first three month of T1.1 reported in Deliverable Report 1.1 further research regarding farm organic waste arisings was performed. Several farm visits took place to establish baseline data. The characteristics of farm wastes varied considerably due to possible effects of associated different feeding regimes and types of animals.

As in period 1 the samples are homogenised and analysis made for COD (mg/l); pH; partial and total alkalinity (mg/l); volatile fatty acids; total Kjeldahl nitrogen (mg/kg); NH4N; total solids and volatile solids. The results show a variation in characteristics and indicate that pH adjustment will be required within the process control in order to achieve optimum anaerobic digestion. The variation of these parameters has been confirmed to not only be between types of livestock but also between samples of the same animal. These results support the findings in the literature.

In addition to the tests conducted in the laboratories of HERI with slurry from the UK, samples of pig and cattle slurry from Spain were analysed. These additional tests were performed at the labs of BIOG and also show significant variations in all the parameters tested.

Detailed findings from task 1.1 are reported in the Deliverable Reports 1.1 and 1.4.

Achievements for Work Package 1:

The following achievements have been made in Work Package 1:
• Samples from three farms in the UK were collected and analysed as well as several samples from Spain.
• Necessity of further research regarding changing feeding compositions depending on seasonal changes has been shown.

Deviations from Work Package 1

There are no deviations from this Work Package.

Work Package 2 – Control system development:

T2.3 – Development of software for closed-loop control system

From the options for sensors determined in Tasks T2.1 and T2.2 a choice has been made and hardware has been installed. From the operating conditions used observations for the control of the biogas plant arise. These are the basis for the control algorithms which in turn must be as simple and as reliable as possible considering also the associated economic impact.

The feeding of the biogas plant examined is corn silage and cow manure. Seasonal variations occur as the animals can be kept on green land in summer times. Corn silage has a much higher energy content than manure thus a compensation of lacking manure can always be compensated. In addition to the manure, all fluid (“waste water”) collected from the draining system at the basement of the corn silage silo (horizontal configuration) is also feed into the digesters. Disregarding the volume, any manure and waste water must be treated at all times. Corn silage is a valuable substrate and should be added at the lowest possible volume ensuring there is enough to be effective. Therefore the sensors have to measure the changing energy content of the manure and waste water to be able to provide concise feeding advice.

Temperature control is indispensable for any biogas plant. Thus sensors are already installed at different positions as standard equipment for the biogas plant. Readout is available through an automated control system.

Organic acids play a vital role in the four phases of the biogas process (hydrolysis, acidogenesis, acetogenesis and methanogenesis). Thus the acidity is a very important parameter. To access the acidity a pH stage (Endress & Hauser) has been installed. It has to be mentioned that measurement of correct absolute pH values would require calibration every 4 - 6 weeks. Due to the cost for calibration this is often replaced by a relative measurement of pH changes only, which could serve to indicate incorrect process behaviour.

Gas volume is also measured using standard equipment. The selection of options for gas composition analysis varies. Methane (CH4) is monitored normally using solid state gas sensors, other gas sensors are applied different (CO2 more common than H2S or NH3). A complex in situ gas analysis with high resolution would be helpful, but is expensive for installation and operation (cheapest gas chromatograph starts at approximately €10000). Often samples are taken and analysed in detail at external facilities. At the prototype test site gas volume and methane & carbon dioxide concentrations are available which are considered to be the minimum equipment required for the control system.

Optical sensors are the most important new component which have been developed during the Smart-Tank project. It is intended to gather spectroscopic information in the near infrared region (950 – 1900 nm). Additionally optical insight from a camera system has been integrated into the optical probe setup.

To allow the collection of spectroscopic data a probe was investigated on the prototype site and could also be installed in the future on the operational thermophilic digester at the Husberg facility where a flange mounting has been integrated when the tank structure was installed. First measurements has taken place to ensure the functionality of this novel measurement method.

At any biogas plant a number of options for actuators exist. Feeding either a single stage or multiple inlets is necessary to put substrate into the tank. Different options could be applied but the main issue remains the same. Inside the tank different systems can be applied for mixing and moving the slurry in the tank. In the Husberg site used for evaluation a diving mixer system (hidden) and slowly rotating paddle system have been used. Heating is also a standard option on all biogas plants. For thermophilic operation the range has to be extended to 60°C, not demanding for the heating systems if sufficiently powerful, but for the tank itself (special sealing for the steel plates required).

Today every biogas plant is connected to the internet and this allows any alarm to be announced through email or SMS on a smart mobile phone with specific information, if urgent action is required. This allows for an online control of the digester without physical presence.

Detailed findings from task 2.3 are reported in the Deliverable Report 2.2.

Achievements for Work Package 2:

The following achievements have been made in Work Package 2:
• A dependable and reliable control system for the Smart-Tank was developed and realised.
• Theoretical approaches regarding temperature and pH value have been supported by the data gained.
• The control system allows further modification of digestion conditions to expose and prove the currently unknown relationships between several microbiological, environmental conditions and digestion speed as well as the properties of gas produced.

Deviations from Work Package 2

There are no deviations from this Work Package.


Work Package 3 – Digester manufacture:

T3.2 – Manufacture and adaption of mobile test unit

The mobile test unit is installed in a container on a single-axis car trailer. All key components necessary for test operation are installed inside the container.

For preparation and storage of substrates the unit has a mixing tank, which can be heated, with a capacity of approximately 50 litres. The mixing tank can be continuously stirred by means of a central agitator. The temperature of the input materials can be measured and increased as necessary. The main anaerobic digestion process takes place in the insulated primary digester of the test unit. It has a total capacity of 200 litres and is also fitted with a mixer. The precise temperature of the substrate is measured by a heat sensor and the electric heating can automatically adjust the temperature as needed. The filling level of the digester is monitored visually.

The input materials are transported from the mixing tank to the digester by means of a displacement pump (progressing cavity pump). The specific pump design allows for feeding of materials of up to 14% DM content (maize) or 20% DM (grated grain or flour). When using input materials with unknown properties and a visibly high viscosity, it is strongly advised to perform a test of pump behaviour first. Also, care must be given that the fibre length of input materials does not exceed 15-20mm in order to prevent pump damage and facilitate the digestion process. The digestate resulting from the biochemical process is temporarily stored in a post-digestion tank with a capacity of 50 litres. The substrate is pumped into the post-digester by means of a displacement pump. The contents of the post-digester are ultimately emptied into an external digestate storage container with enough capacity to store the entire contents of several cycles of testing materials. It is connected to the post-digester using a removable flexible tube and a manual release valve.

The biogas system of both digestion chambers is interconnected. This ensures that the biogas that is produced in the post-digester (from organic material that takes longer to break down into biogas) exits the system together with the main gas flow from the digester. The gas flow resulting from the anaerobic digestion of the substrate is measured in a gas meter and is then safely released into the air. The gas system is air-tight at normal pressure but has a pressure relief mechanism that prevents the build-up of pressure which can be dangerous (overpressure).

Biogas samples for qualitative analysis can be directly extracted from the digester through a sampling valve. This allows for the connection of a more advanced gas analyser that can measure CH4, CO2 and H2S concentrations of the biogas. The testing unit has a switchboard with a semi-automatic process control system that can be used for the operation and monitoring of the testing unit.

Detailed findings from task 3.2 are reported in the Deliverable Report 3.2.

T3.3 – Integration of feedstock pre-treatment system

The feedstock pre-treatment system for the anaerobic digestion plant for the Smart-Tank biogas production process consists of a blending and maceration unit, an externally mounted homogeniser pump, a heat exchanger unit and a closed loop automated control system.

The maize feedstock is fed into the receiving hopper of the feed unit from the covered ground stockpile by front end loader and then conveyed into the blending and maceration unit together with the farm slurry (this is usually done at a ratio of around 70% maize to 30% slurry). The ratio is calculated to ensure the subsequent feedstock C/N (carbon dioxide/nitrogen) ratio falls within an acceptable range (~25:1) to prevent high levels of free ammonia accumulating during digestion and will maximise the percentage of manures and slurries.

Controlled quantities of straw can be added to the feedstock, which has been demonstrated to be an efficient biofilm carrier and can help prevent wash-out of the microorganisms from the digester. The dispensing unit will be one of the PID/fuzzy logic control system actuators. The feedstock temperature and alkalinity is analysed prior to entering the digester as part of the closed loop control system.

The feedstock enters the homogeniser pump where it undergoes a final stage of homogenisation to reduce the particle size to <12mm prior to entering the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger raises the temperature of the feedstock to approximately 70oC over a 1 hour residence time prior to entering the digester. Feedstock leaving the heat exchanger enters the digester through an inlet pipe where heat loss will ensure it enters in the thermophilic temperature range. The heat exchanger uses waste heat from the gas turbine/CHP unit, which is sufficient for pasteurisation and thermophilic operation. The heat exchanger forms one component of the process control system and is fitted with sensors to monitor the temperature. An electrical heating coil can be utilised to control the waste heat recovery system and maintain steady-state conditions when required.

Thermophilic bacterial populations are very sensitive to changes in reactor temperature, pH and shock feedstock loadings. One of the Smart-Tank innovations is the intelligent sensors measuring physical characteristics of the feedstock and digestate in situ (liquid pH, temperature, total alkalinity, volatile fatty acid and bicarbonate concentrations, gas-gas composition, gas production rate) supported by software sensors which operate as part of a closed-loop PID/fuzzy logic control system.

Detailed findings from task 3.3 are reported in the Deliverable Report 3.3.

Achievements for Work Package 3:

The following achievements have been made in Work Package 3:
• The mobile test unit, involving the Smart-Tank prototype, was designed and realised.
• The pre-treatment system was installed.
• Feedstock supplies for the trial duration were secured.
• Development and integration of peripheral equipment was completed.


Deviations from Work Package 3.

There are no deviations from this Work Package.

Work Package 4 – Integration and commissioning:

T4.1 – Planning, procurement and hardware installation

The prototype Smart-Tank farm system was set up in strong cooperation between the project partners to guarantee a dependable and reliable foundation for future, longer term experimental findings. It consists of a 200 litre digester with a central mixer and is a double wall vessel with electrical heating mounted in a trailer. The unit can be moved to additional sites for testing additional substrate options. Feeding of substrate combinations can be applied through an initial mixing stage (“Anmischbehälter”). After the fermentation the remaining substrate can be pumped into a second tank for post treatment (“Nachgärer”). To allow easy access to feeding supplies all our experimentation was conducted on a large biogas site at Husberg.

The control of the Smart-Tank system is based on an algorithm that applies sensor data to estimate an action directive for the actuators. The sensors used are sensitive for temperature, gas rate in the air inside the trailer and chemical conditions (pH, Redox). Furthermore optical sensors are involved for the monitoring of Archaea activity. Actuators are used for the regulation of heating, feeding and stirring and for the initialisation of alerts if the conditions exceed the specified criteria (maximum and minimum values). Some actuators were already integrated in the prototype operated in Husberg. Further sensors have been adapted to the prototype site through different flanges in the digester body.

The testing and validating of the sensor system designed for the process control of the Smart-Tank system was subdivided into two major stages. In a first step it was necessary to run the prototype in a way that drives the sensors through the complete dynamic range of each sensor. Thus the capability and the accurateness of the sensors used can be verified. This has been completed, but still the long term stability of the sensors must be proven in a second stage of testing and validating. Thus it was decided to start the operation of the Smart-Tank prototype with a specific selection of feedstock and under stable conditions for temperature and heating. During the operation the organic matter matrix changes caused by the ongoing digestion and the influence of this progress on the sensor signals was tested under a selected set of conditions.

Detailed findings from task 4.1 are reported in the Deliverable Reports 4.1 and 4.2.


T4.2 – Site preparation

Groundwork was executed for the citing of the digester, feedstock pre-treatment unit and associated plant and equipment and considered access required for waste delivery and unloading. Site safety assessments were completed to minimise risk of liquid or gaseous discharge and ensure operator safety. Provisions for ensuring effective collection and maintenance of feedstock supply were developed.

Detailed findings from task 4.2 are reported in the Deliverable Report 4.3.

T4.3 – Digester and plant installation

FARM organised the transport of digesters to the Husberg site and, in conjunction with HERI and IPMS, arranged for the mobile test unit to be transported and located at the site. The mobile test unit is housed to minimise environmental exposure and influences. The complete system was assembled and connected to the farm services.

Once the site planning and regulatory requirements had been completed and the site preparation in terms of civil works, drainage, foundations, site mains services (electrical and water supplies), excavation for the settlement ponds etc. had also been completed, the actual delivery of equipment and the start of the plant installation could begin. Construction of the main AD fermenter tanks supplied by FARM started once their foundations had been completed and the concrete bases had cured. The digesters were installed and ready for commissioning according to the required schedule.

Detailed findings from task 4.3 are reported in the Deliverable Report 4.4.

T4.4 – Commissioning and digester start-up phase

IPMS and HERI executed initial commissioning of the system to validate operation of the heat exchanger, pump and closed loop control system. HERI, HENZE and FARM worked in strong cooperation during the start-up phase to ensure the digester and mobile test unit reached optimum conditions before the Smart-Tank trials began. During start-up the digester and mobile test unit were inoculated with digestate from an operational thermophilic digester to facilitate the establishment of the required consortia of acetagenic and methanogenic bacteria. During operation the liquid digestate was used to seed the incoming feedstock in the feedstock blending unit.

Detailed findings from task 4.4 are reported in the Deliverable Report 4.4.

Achievements for Work Package 4:

The following achievements have been made in Work Package 4:
• The operation of the prototype digester was set up and started.
• The control system was integrated and first measurements were executed.

Deviations from Work Package 4:

The usage of the pre-treatment unit and the pasteurisation of the feedstock was not necessary for the prototype operation.

Work Package 5 – Trials and optimisation:

T5.1 – Simulated farm-scale operational trials of the Smart-Tank system

The Smart-Tank prototype unit has been operated with different substrate options and conditions through the test period. Data was acquired using the chemical and physical sensors as well as the optical probe. In addition further measurements have been performed in the IPMS labs in Dresden, Germany, to examine slurry from the digesters at commercial biogas sites. Main operational parameters have been kept constant within the trial runs and adjusted between the separate tests only. Therefore every experiment was carried out at a fixed temperature which was kept constant with a maximum deviation of +/- 1°C. Stirring was applied at fixed revolution through the entire time of testing. The measurements have been evaluated at IPMS and correlated to the data which has been derived from laboratory measurements performed earlier as well as data from literature.

The key for controlling the process inside the Smart-Tank system is the ability to monitor the activity of the methane producing species directly. This enables the project partners to focus the research on the underlying idea of using different substrates and to treat as much as possible organic waste from the farm site to save more valuable raw materials like corn silage. The microorganisms (Archaea) in the test environment live at an elevated temperature and are transferring organic acid into methane. The optimal living conditions for this organisms are specified for temperature (52 – 55°C, optional up to 62°C), chemical milieu (pH) and supply of feedstock.

The complex biogas process contains four different steps: hydrolysis, acidogenesis, acidogenesis and methanogenesis. For the Smart-Tank project the methanogenesis, the fourth step in the conversion from raw organic material into methane is most relevant. In the past monitoring at biogas plants was insufficient in consideration of the complexity and importance of feeding as only the operation conditions have been adjusted and kept stable. Future research using multivalent feeding will require more detailed access to the activity of the Archaea species. Either the organic acids throughout the complete process flow are evaluated (e.g. spectroscopic investigations of the slurry in the tank to measure the fatty acid concentrations) or direct measurements of the Archaea activity are developed. During the Smart-Tank project an optical probe was designed which is used to evaluate the activity.

Before the prototype trials began laboratory measurements had been performed primarily to get an initial insight into principal influence of operation conditions on the Archaea activity. For temperature the optimum range has been discussed in literature in significant detail. In summary it is understood that the temperature should be above 52 °C to keep the Archaea active and high gas production has been achieved applying 55 °C and higher temperatures could serve to suppress parasitic species at temperatures ranging up to 60 °C or even 62 °C. Since temperature control is well established, the main issue is the design of the heat exchanger in the tank to minimise potential temperature gradients. From a scientific perspective it is more interesting and important to understand the influence of the chemical milieu. A common main parameter is the acidity given in pH (1-7 acids, 7 neutral, and 7-14 alkaline).

Different combinations of measurements have been performed with the prototype system to gather information about the activity of the Archaea. The acidity measurements were performed with samples from a thermophilic digester operating from pure corn silage. The first set of trials applies slurry taken from the main digester of the Husberg biogas plant at mesophilic conditions (36 - 37°C), the second set applies the same substrate with thermophilic conditions (52 - 55°C) and finally a mixture of cow manure and corn silage is used at thermophilic conditions with seeding (addition of 10 % volume from a running digester) either mesophilic or thermophilic active material.

Long term measurements are intended at the Husberg main operational digester where a flange has been integrated during construction of the tank. These measurements will take place during 2013 and will cover a complete vegetation period (spring, summer, harvest). This will prove the reliability of the operating system, but will already be part of a product development which will be outside the timeframe of the Smart-Tank research project.

Additional measurements have also been planned for the testing of further optional sensor principles. One example which should be mentioned is NIR spectroscopy. Due to the dark brown tinted appearance of the slurry in the tank, measurements in diffuse reflectance can only be applied. The interpretation of the spectra will be difficult, particularly the stability of the chemo-metrical model required, due to the extreme sensitivity to change in the organic matrix i.e. feeding options will affect the reliability of the measurements. Furthermore installation and operation of the spectroscopic device is expensive. More sophisticated methods (MIR spectroscopy in the fingerprint region 2.5 – 25µm wavelength, attenuated total reflection ATR spectroscopy) would be too expensive to be commercially viable as a component of the control system in a commercial biogas plant

Detailed findings from task 5.1 are reported in the Deliverable Report 5.2.

T5.2 – Analysis, optimisation and technical support

Smart-Tank set-up trials have been performed to validate the reliability as well as the validity of the monitoring and control system. Starting with well-known operation conditions baseline data for the measured values have been defined. This was the foundation for the interpretation of later results, after shifting to more sophisticated experimentation such as thermophilic operation at elevated temperatures.

These experiments have been conducted using the mobile digester unit placed at the Husberg site. This is favourable and more representative than tests performed under laboratory conditions as the mobile test unit closely replicates real life biogas plants and utilises feedstock available on the farm site (untreated manure and also corn silage). Furthermore, substrate taken directly from the main digester at Husberg plant can be used for seeding.

For the evaluation of the sensors and especially the optical probe two important stages of testing were necessary. The first stage was to evaluate and determine the dynamic range of the sensors. Once this process was completed the stability of the system had to be examined by running long term trials. Based on this results the digesting process inside the Smart-Tank prototype could be monitored, controlled and adjusted if necessary.

Before performing the first test the digester was filled with water and heated up. The intention of this process was to avoid the substrate from sudden cooling and therefore prevent the active Archaea from reducing their activity or even dying. The water was filled into the tank through a 1” hose to a level corresponding with 200 litres which was the filling level planned for all experiments.

After filling the heater was adjusted to 36°C target temperature. This temperature was reached after 24 hours and kept stable with +/- 1°C deviation. The first test with water was also used to test the operation of all sensors and actuators as well as the entire system integrity. This was completed successfully and the filling of the tank with feeding stock could therefore begin. The water was removed completely from the tank and slurry from the Husberg operational main digester was filled into the prototype tank. This had to be done manually since the viscosity of the slurry was too high for the usage of the 1” hose available on site.

The feeding material had a temperature of 36°C coming out of the main operational digester “tank 1” of the Husberg biogas plant. The temperature of the preheated prototype tank remained close to 36°C all the time as planned and the activity of the Archaea was therefore not reduced and the evaluation on the digestion process started immediately. For the following tests the filling process was optimised by applying a 2” wide hose to directly integrate the main operational digester to the prototype tank. This was solely used for the seeding slurry and the feeding of manure and corn silage still has to be performed manually.

Detailed findings from task 5.2 are reported in the Deliverable Report 5.1.

T5.3 – Reporting and recommendations for development and exploitation

Regarding the data submitted by the sensors during the different trials it can be seen that the acidity is almost constant even with decreasing activity in the tank after 8 days of operation. In turn this indicates that pH sensors will be suitable for an alarm function only. Changes in pH indicate severe process deviations but reduced activity cannot be estimated from pH changes.

From the experiments performed it can be observed that the chemical sensors react very well on changes in the initial phase of the starting digestion. From this it can be derived that chemical sensors indeed make sense for the Smart-Tank system to survey the operation of the digester.

Another notable and interesting result has been achieved from the optical probe. During the initial phase it was expected that the Archaea activity remains quite low until the process is running completely in the thermophilic mode. This theory has been proven by the experimental measurement results.

In summary it can be stated that the acidity is quite stable which in turn means that control through the measurement of the pH value by the ISFET sensor is not providing sufficiently detailed information about the digestion status however a significant change in pH is an indicator of major operational issue and an alarm can be initiated.

Redox potential shows more detailed correlation to the Archaea activity and might be useful for low performance process controlling. However a monitoring based on Redox solely is not satisfying for process optimisation at a biogas plant. The most detailed information regarding the digestion progress can be derived from the signal of the optical probe. It has been evaluated that there is a strong correlation between the decrease of activity of microorganisms and the consumption of the organic matter in the digester. The remaining digestion material reveals a very low viscosity, close to water, after 10 days of operational trials from the feedstock from the main Husberg digester. In conjunction, almost all organic matter added for feeding at the initiation of the test has been converted to biogas. This is consistent with the assumption that the thermophilic process runs approximately double the speed of mesophilic operation.

The gas production per mass unit of dry substrate (TS) of the thermophilic process used in the Smart-Tank prototype has been estimated to be 10-15% higher than for using a mesophilic process.

Based on the experience with and the data obtained during the test runs several recommendations for development and further research have been determined:

• Since an ISFET sensor for pH value is reasonable for initialisation of alarm only and the Redox potential sensor is suitable only for situation with a low feeding frequency alternative chemical indicators should be reviewed.
• The optical probe is able to give detailed data on the process conditions, but the reliability in long term runs has to be proven. This could be part of a product development and commercialisation project following the Smart-Tank research project.
• Detailed NIR spectroscopy is currently difficult to evaluate. Therefore the design and testing of accordant models for interpretation should be considered.

Detailed findings from task 5.3 are reported in the Deliverable Report 5.2 which is also a result of the task.


Achievements for Work Package 5:

The following achievements have been made in Work Package 4:
• The sensor and control system of the prototype digester were validated.
• First measurements have taken place. The results deliver a more knowledge in the digestion process.
• It has been determined that the gas production per mass unit of dry substrate is significantly higher in thermophilic digestion.
• Recommendations for further development have been identified.

Deviations from Work Package 5:

The trials were run in the prototype unit instead of a full scale farm digester as originally planned prior to the Smart-Tank project contract amendment. We have therefore been unable to test the technology using large amounts of waste as the mobile test unit has capacity restraints.

Work Package 6 – Training and dissemination:

T6.1 – Management of IPR

The project manager and the commercial development manager worked together during the project to ensure an effective management of the IPR gained. The results of the research and experiments gained were analysed regarding their viability and intrinsic value. The IPR ownership and licensing agreements outlined in the consortium agreement were further defined for each partner during the project.

PERMA, with support from HERI, have undertaken the necessary patent searches as part of the development of the Smart-Tank concept, which have demonstrated the originality of the idea and formed part of the initial draft to the patent attorney. HERI assigned IPR related to the Smart-Tank system to PERMA who will license the IPR to FARM and HENZE enabling them to sell the system in agricultural and municipal markets. HENZE and FARM have developed know-how related to the application of thermophilic AD for the treatment of organic waste through project knowledge transfer activities. These were coordinated by the commercial development manager and enabled FARM and HENZE to provide product support and pursue consultancy based activities. This is also the case for BIOG, who developed know-how related to organic waste pre-treatment that enables them to sell increased numbers of units in AD markets and pursue consultancy activities.


T6.2 – Training and knowledge transfer

The first of the three RTD-SME training events covering digester prototype manufacture, control system development and farm-scale trials took place at the premises of the Deutsches Biomasse Forschungs Zentrum Gemeinnützige GmbH (DBFZ) located at Torgauer Str. 116, D-04347 in Leipzig, Germany. This meeting took place on 25th May 2012 where the partners met with Dr Liebetrau of the DBFZ who prior to the meeting and training took PERMA, IPMS and HERI on a site visit of the facility.

The DBFZ was founded on in 2008 in Berlin as a non-profit organisation (known as a gGmbH in Germany) and the Federal German Government represented by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) is the sole shareholder of the DBFZ. Later in 2008 the DBFZ acquired the former Institute for Energy and Environment gGmbH (which is the site at Leipzig). Among the advantages of this fusion was that the excellent technical expertise and the contacts of the Institute for Energy and Environment in the field of utilisation of biomass for energy production could be integrated into the DBFZ. Discussions began with the DBFZ in early 2012 to see if they would be interested in joining the Smart-Tank consortium and using their new facility in Leipzig to work on the delivery of the proposed technology. A concept document had previously been prepared by PERMA and HERI and this was presented to the DBFZ as an introduction to the digester prototype manufacture, control-system development and farm-scale trials.

The second training event took place at the FARM AD plant installation situated at Husberg in Germany following the project contract amendment to include a mobile digester for the Smart-Tank prototype testing. This took place in the morning of 22nd January 2013 prior to the Month M26 Project and Technical Meeting in Nortorf, Germany.

The third RTD-SME training event took place at the Month M27 Meeting on Monday 25th February 2013 held in a Meeting Room at Hannover Airport attended by the RTD Performers IPMS and HERI and SME Partners PERMA, FARM, HENZE and BIOG.

Detailed findings from task 6.2 are reported in the Deliverable Report 6.4

T6.3 – Marketing and dissemination

The Smart-Tank project included the creation of a project website and web-based portal, maintained by PERM. The website includes a public area having information covering technical and commercial project objectives and developments.
In addition to the web site a list of publications across Europe that could potentially be used to disseminate information and results from the Smart Tank project was developed.

The targeted magazines and journals include:

Northern Ireland
• Farming Life (main farming publication in Northern Ireland)
Scotland
• The Scottish Farmer (main farming publication in Scotland)
England
• Farmers Guardian (one of the main farming publications in England)
• Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine (Well circulated and read journal throughout UK)
Germany
• Bauernblatt (Farmers magazine)
• Neue Energie (Renewable Energy Magazine)
• DLG Mitteilungen (Farm Communications Magazine)
• Energie & Pflanzen (Renewable Energy Magazine)
• Land & Forst (Renewable Energy Magazine)
• Nordisk Energi (Scandinavian Renewable Energy Magazine)
Romania
• Fermierul Magazine (Agricultural Magazine)
• Biodiesel Magazine (Renewable Energy Magazine)
Sweden
• ATL (Agricultural Magazine)
Hungary
• Agrarhaszon (Agricultural Magazine)
The Netherlands
• Boerderij (Agricultural Magazine)

The following sentence was added to all publications and to the project web-site: “The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme managed by the REA (Research Executive Agency) http://ec.europe.eu/research/rea”.

There were and are no anticipated business arrangements which may impose limitations on the subsequent exploitation or information or inventions generated as a result of the project.
Press releases would be issued in conjunction with submittals for magazine publication. Thus results can be disseminated to the scientific community and industry through trade shows and exhibitions. These shows are found throughout the European community and include selected shows in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands France, Poland and Scandinavia.
A selection of targeted shows includes:
• UK AD & Biogas
• European Bioenergy Conference
• International Anaerobic Digestion symposium
• Biogas Annual Conference and Trade Fair

Detailed findings from task 6.3 are reported in the Deliverable Reports D6.1 D6.2 and D6.3.

T6.4 – Business development and inward investment

The SME Partners investigated the existing use of the word ‘Smart-Tank’ to ensure there would be no conflict of interest if the name was registered as a Company Name, Product Name, and Trademark or used in a Patent etc. No company could be found with the name ‘Smart-Tank’. However, a few examples of similar wording existed, e.g. ‘Smart Tank’, ‘SmartTank’ and ‘smarttank’.

The progress within the project has been encouraging and some of the consortium partners are determined to commercialise the Smart-Tank technology following the project end date.

Future funding and investment can take a number of forms. These include:
• Funds from within the consortium partners interested in taking the technology forward and possibly also into other applications.
• Venture capital.
• Contact with the UK Business Angels group and further approaches could be made through the European Business Angels Network (EBAN).

The interested consortium partners could also engage with other potential investors who can provide funding to cover pre-production work and certification costs for example. In order to attract funding from any of the above sources it is necessary to complete two tasks. Firstly the mobile test unit integrated Smart-Tank system (hardware and software) will continue to be tested post-project at the Husberg anaerobic digestion site in Germany and will be vital as a commercial demonstration of the technology. The mobile test unit is of course not a fully commercial entity and will need to be further developed and value engineered to produce systems fit for the market.
A further essential activity is the need to build upon the broad marketing assessments for the technology already executed. Identification of potential customers for the Smart-Tank technology is necessary to quantify sales figures in the business plan which will be required by incoming investors. Experienced market investigators should be employed to produce this more detailed information which will supplement the key market opportunities that have already been identified in the anaerobic digestion sector.

The following additional information on future funding and investment is taken from a published article by Lorraine Ruffing, Senior Advisor at WASME (World Association of Small & Medium Enterprises):
• Bank Financing – Banks are not the best candidates for financing technology because of their high risk aversion and they avoid technology investments that:
 Have long gestation periods.
 Outcomes that are difficult to value even if successful.
 Outcomes which might have a high risk of obsolescence.
• Risk Capital as an option – includes Equity Financing, Venture Capital, Business Angel Investment (EBAN) and Corporate Venturing. Venture Capital played a hugely important part in financing the US hi-tech industries – in the year 2000 alone it provided $100Billion to new companies. Without it there would be no Apple, Cisco, FedEx, Intel, Staples and many others.
• Venture Capital – the drawbacks – the entrepreneurs must be willing to sell significant equity to ‘outsiders’ and there must be a market developed for the technology firms for when the VC withdraws.
• Other options – Government Grants (UK and Europe)

Additional information and detailed findings from task 6.4 are reported in the Deliverable Report 6.5

Achievements for Work Package 6:

The following achievements have been made in Work Package 4:
• Effective management of the IPR was ensured.
• Continued funding during the project was secured. Options for future investment were identified and compared.
• The dissemination of the project results was executed in an appropriate and effective manner. Knowledge transfer between the RTD performers and the SMEs took place.

Deviations from Work Package 6:

There are no deviations from this Work Package.





Potential Impact:
Project potential impacts:
The main result from the Smart-Tank project are the design and a prototype of a complete thermophilc anaerobic digestion system for standalone conversion of waste organic material into useful by-products (electricity, heat and digestate). In addition, know-how was developed related to the treatment of farm organic waste using thermophilic AD comprising of feedstock loading ratio’s and optimum digester operation enabling the user to maximise profitability. The end user will benefit from higher biogas yields and the ability to process a higher percentage of manure and slurry in The feedstock and a faster rate of digestion. The development of the Smart-Tank technology also allows the SME members of our consortium to supply a differentiated product for the AD of organic wastes and compete with existing technology providers. The main results achieved so far are as follows: • Regulations affecting the production of biogas within the EU have been determined. • Regulations for AD systems in the EU and UK are known. • Literature reviews have determined the composition of farm organic wastes, typical yields of farm slurries in AD systems, the influence of veterinary antibiotics and toxic inhibitory substances in AD systems and the legislation concerning the transfer of organic wastes. • The physical and biochemical parameters that affect metabolic rates at each process stage have been identified. • Strategies and technologies that enable control of these physical and biochemical parameters are determined. • The suggested main parameters that control anaerobic digestion have been analysed and confirmed during the trials. • An outline digester design has been established. • An evaluation of sensors and cost has been undertaken. • A test-site has been identified by the consortium. • A website has been created. • A mobile prototype of the Smart-Tank system was realised and placed at a farm site in Northern Germany. • The sensor and actuator system was installed and matches the expectations of the consortium completely. • The prototype was start up successfully, several trials have been executed. • The control of the prototype unit via VPN has been realised. Therefore the physical presence of the operator is no longer necessary to change the fermentation conditions. • Using a probe for the monitoring of slurry during the digestion, deeper insights in the fermentation have been won. Those allow for an optimisation of the fermentation process as well as the gas production per ton dry substrate. • A plan for further utilisation of the project results has been determined. Marketing and dissemination The Smart-Tank project included the creation of a project website and web-based portal, maintained by PERMA. The website includes a public area having information covering technical and commercial project objectives and developments. In addition to the web site a list of publications across Europe that could potentially be used to disseminate information and results from the Smart Tank project was developed. The targeted magazines and journals include: Northern Ireland • Farming Life (main farming publication in Northern Ireland) Scotland • The Scottish Farmer (main farming publication in Scotland) England • Farmers Guardian (one of the main farming publications in England) • Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine (Well circulated and read journal throughout UK) Germany • Bauernblatt (Farmers magazine) • Neue Energie (Renewable Energy Magazine) • DLG Mitteilungen (Farm Communications Magazine) • Energie & Pflanzen (Renewable Energy Magazine) • Land & Forst (Renewable Energy Magazine) • Nordisk Energi (Scandinavian Renewable Energy Magazine) Romania • Fermierul Magazine (Agricultural Magazine) • Biodiesel Magazine (Renewable Energy Magazine) Sweden • ATL (Agricultural Magazine) Hungary • Agrarhaszon (Agricultural Magazine) The Netherlands • Boerderij (Agricultural Magazine) The following sentence was added to all publications and to the project web-site: “The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme managed by the REA (Research Executive Agency) http://ec.europe.eu/research/rea”. There were and are no anticipated business arrangements which may impose limitations on the subsequent exploitation or information or inventions generated as a result of the project. Press releases were issued in conjunction with submittals for magazine publication. Thus results can be disseminated to the scientific community and industry through trade shows and exhibitions. These shows are found throughout the European community and include selected shows in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands France, Poland and Scandinavia. A selection of targeted shows includes: • UK AD & Biogas • European Bioenergy Conference • International Anaerobic Digestion symposium • Biogas Annual Conference and Trade Fair Detailed findings from task 6.3 are reported in the Deliverable Reports D6.1 D6.2 and D6.3.
List of Websites:
www.smart-tank.eu Contact the Coordinator: Mr. Saqlain Ali PERMASTORE LTD