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H2AD - Innovative and scalable biotechnology using Microbial Fuel Cell and Anaerobic Digestion for the treatment of micro-scale industrial and agriculture effluents to recover energy from waste

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - H2AD-aFDPI (H2AD - Innovative and scalable biotechnology using Microbial Fuel Cell and Anaerobic Digestion for the treatment of micro-scale industrial and agriculture effluents to recover energy from waste)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-10-31

Catalysed by their activities as mechanical engineers to the UK water treatment, energy & manufacturing industries, Lindhurst Innovation Engineering (LIE) have developed H2AD - a novel micro-scale technology for the rapid & safe disposal of organic effluents. H2AD uses an efficient industrial biotechnology process to reduce the chemical oxygen demand (COD) of the organic content & recover the energy from waste via conversion to hydrogen/methane rich biogas and fertiliser. The core technology underpinning H2AD is an integrated and modular closed loop Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC), based on a novel hybrid of traditional Anaerobic Digestion (AD) & conventional MFC technology. However, in contrast to existing MFCs, a microbial reaction with the potential for electrical stimulation is established in a completely anaerobic manner, realising a waste-to-energy (WtE) process with step-change in the time required to reduce the COD & total suspended solids (TSS) of organic waste streams to safe levels.

The innovation addresses the immediate requirement for a micro-scale effluent disposal technology, due to considerable feedstock volumes & biocomposition requirements of existing technologies such as AD. H2AD has been developed to target micro & small enterprises (μSE) generating waste with organic load beyond that accepted for disposal to sewer, & for which space is restricted, reducing the effluent storage & disposal costs by up to 70% & additionally recovering the energy in waste to further reduce production costs.

A principle feasibility project output was that disposal of organic waste streams is a key restriction on the productivity & profitability of the EU agri-food & drink processing industry (a-FDPI), which therefore presents the greatest opportunity for initial market capture. A predominance of micro & small enterprises (μSE) within the a-FDPI, makes H2AD commercially viable in a wide range of applications, for which no feasible micro-scale technology currently exists for the safe disposal of organic waste or recovery of energy from these effluent volumes. H2AD can uniquely address this challenge as well as recover some of the 288TWh of potential energy in the a-FDPI as hydrogen/methane rich biogas.

The feasibility study established measures of H2AD performance & extrapolated/modelled predicted payback periods from slurry-fed H2AD for waste streams from fruit drinks processing (<2yrs), dairy processing (<1.5yrs) microbreweries (<2.5yrs) and mixed agriculture (<3yrs). Detailed analysis of these markets – forming the basis of LIE’s elaborated business plan – demonstrated the potential for payback well within the critical payback period of 2.5 years for industry adoption of a new technology.
However, a number of commercially viable business models are capable of targeting these applications on a mass-market scale. Therefore, to precisely determine the commercial opportunity of each to inform a refined initial strategy & long term route to market replication, it is necessary to qualify and quantify the economic, technical & environmental impact of H2AD in the different key environments within the a-FDPI identified.

The field trials were carried out within a strong collaborative framework in Spain (AINIA – a-FDPI technology centre), Denmark (Aarhus University/Arla – AD Centre of Excellence), Ireland (IrBEA – Irish Biogas Energy Association) & UK (Castle Rock - Oakfield Farm) & galvanised & quantitatively refined the LIE business model for initial market capture & medium to long-term strategies for widespread uptake & market replication.
Laura Porcu is currently working on two scientific papers for publication:
1. The first will showcase the performance and behaviour of the H2AD technology with different feedstocks
2. The second will showcase the journey of H2AD including the development and scaling up of the technology from a research idea and project to a full commercial plant. In particular, it will highlight the barriers and challenges experienced whilst achieving this.
Please reference the report for Deliverable 6.3 for full details of dissemination by the H²AD team.
Potential trial sites and facilitators were identified and assessed for their suitability and their impact on the project individually, considering feedstocks, industry sector growth potential for H2AD and future network potential. Once selected and mutually agreed upon, relationships were established with trial facilitators as well as end users to discuss and plan various feedstock options and outline design proposals. Trial start dates were agreed once visits to sites and meetings with partners had taken place.

A final design for the H2AD 30 trial units and software was decided upon with suitable parts and manufacturers being sourced. After facilitating preparations for the site, work commenced on manufacturing five H2AD 30 units which are nearing completion after some delay with manufacturing core unit containers and associated parts. Front and back end technology designs are being considered with some elements being manufactured now in readiness. All units are being tested concurrently, with preparations for CE marking and quality manuals seeing good progress and targets being met. Over the course of the project, designs for the units were modified to suit findings. These will be incorporated into final designs being taken to market.

Claim period two saw all five H2AD demonstration units have been completely manufactured, tested and shipped to their destinations (Oakfield Farm – UK, Castle Rock – UK, Country Crest – Ireland, Ainia – Spain, Aarhus University – Denmark,) where they have been installed and commissioned. Each individual site had a separate design specification to enable the H2AD Unit to be able to operate with the varied and challenging feedstocks selected. These designs were manufactured along with sensoring and software packages.

Claim period three - Trials were completed on all five sites, with the results disseminated at two end of project events. Please reference the final periodic report for results of trails and the report for Deliverable 6.3 for full details of the dissemination carried out by the H²AD team.
As the first six months have involved the sourcing of trial sites and the building of units, it is too early to comment on progress beyond the expected potential impacts of the project thus far.

Claim Two update: It is still to early to provide any information relating to expected impacts.

Claim Three update: Micro H2AD offers a modular, scalable & low-cost solution & allows all companies & organisations in all countries, developed or developing, irrespective of size to engage with renewable energy & reduce their carbon emissions & footprint. Traditional linear economic model is to, ‘take, make, dispose’ or ‘make, use, dispose’. Such an economic model relies on large quantities of cheap raw materials & energy. Many environmental economists believe such a model is not viable for the long term when compared to the circular economic model. A circular economy is an attractive & viable alternative. A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy where resources are used for as long as possible by extracting the maximum value from the resources while in use, then recover & regenerate products/materials at the end of each service life. For further details please see pages 11 - 16 of the final perdiodic report.