European project focuses on optimizing anaerobic digestion

By VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland | October 11, 2013

VTT Technological Research Centre of Finland is coordinating a new European project that is focusing on studying anaerobic digestion of organic waste and developing its control. AD processes can be optimized to produce biogas, but also volatile fatty acids, which are even more valuable than biogas. The volatile fatty acids can be converted further into raw materials with which it’s possible to produce oil-replacing biobased products, such as bioplastics.

During the anaerobic digestion process, which contains four main steps, the organic matter is degraded by bacteria to biogas in the absence of oxygen. Controlling the digestion process is one of the most important ways of making the biogas production process more efficient. A prototype for process monitoring and controlling system will be developed during the OPTI-VFA project. This system enables more efficient control of both volatile fatty acids and biogas production. It also improves the profitability, efficiency and reliability of the process.

Anaerobic digestion of biowaste also promotes the green society, due to the fact that AD process has many positive environmental impacts. After digestion, waste has considerably less odor problems, reduced acidity as well as reduced pathogen and pesticides content. Fossil fuels can be compensated by biogas and thus the amount of emissions can be decreased. Also the methane emissions will be decreased, when the methane produced as a disintegration product during AD process will be utilized as energy in a closed process.

The total budget of the two-year OPTI-VFA project is EUR 1.15 million, VTT's share of which is approximately one-third. VTT is responsible for the planning, building and calibration of the prototype for monitoring and controlling system.

The project group consists of nine partners: Attero (Netherlands), Optomeasures (France), Rikola (Finland), MTT Multantiv (Finland), MSI (Spain), Maris Projects (Netherlands), VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (Finland), TUDelft (the Netherlands) and CEIT (Spain).