This is why a £1.2m anaerobic digestion centre of excellence is planned for York

The University of York and Yorkshire Water have joined forces to establish a Centre of Excellence for anaerobic digestion (AD) research as part of a £1.2m project.

The current anaerobic digestion laboratory.
The current anaerobic digestion laboratory.

The organisations first collaborated in 2016 and created the System-60 AD research facility in the Department of Biology at the University of York.

Over the next four years the additional funding will advance the ground-breaking research at their Naburn site in York with the creation of a Centre of Excellence for AD research.

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Yorkshire Water has committed £600,000 to the project, which aims to transform AD performance, delivering environmental and financial benefits for Yorkshire Water and its customers. The work conducted aims to strengthen the university’s bio/circular economy research portfolio, contributing to the regional aspiration to become carbon neutral.

Professor James Chong, University of York, Department of Biology.

Tom Hall, Yorkshire Water head of bioresources, said: “Anaerobic digestion facilities are vital to the way we treat our sewage sludge both now and into the future.

“We currently treat around 145,000 dry tonnes of sewage sludge each year and this is likely to increase to around 180,000 dry tonnes by 2035 given population growth in our region and new regulations linked to phosphorus removal.

“This collaboration with the University of York is a vital part of Yorkshire Water’s programme for improving the environment and supporting the company’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions.”

Richard Kershaw, Yorkshire Water wastewater innovation programme manager, added: “The strong partnership we have formed with the University of York is helping us to understand how existing anaerobic digestion facilities can be made to perform more effectively. This next project will enable us to increase digester throughput, boost renewable energy generation and ultimately provide our customers with value for money.”

Yorkshire Water said it would welcome collaborative input from other water companies. Plans to scale up the research programme, expand the lab and pilot facilities and build a large-scale test facility have also been proposed as part of a submission to the Ofwat Innovation fund in November this year.

Prof James Chong, University of York, Department of Biology, said: “I’m very excited that a long-term partnership has developed from the work we have carried out.”

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James Mitchinson