Assessment of Feedstock Digestion Systems

Assessment of Feedstock Digestion Systems

Full Project Title: Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment of feedstock digestion systems

Researcher: Markus Voelklein

T: 021 420-5272 


Funding Body: Marie Curie ITN

Programme: ATBEST ITN

Project Type: PhD

Period: Nov 2013 – Nov 2016

Project Description:

The ATBEST ITN (Advanced technologies for biogas efficiency sustainability and transport)

develops innovative research and training for the biogas industry in Europe. 12 PhD students and 2 Post Docs have been recruited, based in eight training sites located in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Sweden. The ATBEST is a multidisciplinary collaboration between internationally-renowned research teams and industrial partners. The aim is to establish long-term collaborations and develop structured research and training relevant to industry and academia along the biogas supply chain.

This PhD assesses innovative biogas technologies. This will be carried out through detailed systems analysis including for energy and carbon balances, laboratory assessment, cost analyses and general life cycle analyses (LCA).

One of the major research tasks is to draw and compare different scenarios of innovative biomethane systems with life cycle assessment. The main focus in this evaluation lies on efficient digestion systems and upgrading of biogas with external hydrogen from surplus electricity as described in the Sabatier equation. In this scenario, the storage capability of biogas functions as a "battery" of the electricity grid.

Therefore, full scale biomethane systems will be assessed, compared and subjected to life cycle assessment. In order to support the calculations of the yet to be implemented technologies, the proposed scenarios will be backed up with data from anaerobic digestion lab trials. In a next step, the experiment will be gradually extended and combine digestion and biological methanisation at lab scale. This will be carried out by injecting additional hydrogen to enhance methane production and achieve carbon dioxide removal.

The major outcomes of this research project will promote the described innovative bio methane systems in industry. The use of detailed energy balances and cost analysis determines the economic viability and supports the decision making process in industry. 

Environmental Research Institute

University College Cork, Lee Road, Cork