Yorkshire Water and the University of York have started working together on a project to step up the effectiveness of anaerobic digestion.
They hope to be able to transform the process of turning sewage into biogas for electricity generation and in doing so help reduce their company carbon footprint and slash customer bills.
By 2020, they plan to treat all of Yorkshire’s sewage using anaerobic digestion instead of incinerators – they plan to do this by making existing digesters work harder rather than building more expensive treatment plants.
In order to do this, Yorkshire Water and Professor James Chong at the University of York have built 60 identical digesters in laboratory environments to gain better insights into the microbes that drive anaerobic digestion and find the ideal conditions to increase efficiency.
They have also commissioned a pilot-scale anaerobic digestion plant at Yorkshire Water’s Naburn sewage treatment works to test how different methods work in practice,
Professor Chong said: “Working with Yorkshire Water means that we are able to access real world feedstocks and digester contents and therefore address real world problems.
“The new facilities we’ve built in the Biology Department at York allow us to mimic large scale installations and use state-of-the-art techniques to understand how the microbial communities that drive anaerobic digestion change in response to the material that enters the digesters.”