The performance benefit of AD substrate pre-treatment.

Is it time to give your AD substrate a sports drink and a warmup?

AD substrate pre-treatment is fast emerging as one of the most impactful additions to the Anaerobic Digestion (AD) & biogas production process. “It’s the AD equivalent of taking a pre-workout sports drink and doing a warm-up”. The effort upfront to prepare properly greatly enhances performance.

Capital intensive, energy hungry industries like the waste to energy sector are perpetually searching for ways to improve return on assets. But perhaps one answer is “staring us in the waste” so to speak, asserts Wade McRoberts of Alps Ecoscience.

Recent, innovations by Alps Ecoscience in the sampling and characterisation of AD substrates is revealing significant opportunity to impact Organic Loading Rate (OLR) and Hydraulic Retention Time (HRT) by simply pre-treating the waste materials appropriately.

For some waste matter increasing mechanical agitation is sufficient but for other more complex protein mixes, spraying with a specific enzyme and nutrients pay dividends once they transfer into the reactor.

“We’re building a specific menu of additives and mechanical technology that accelerate the decomposition of substrates making them more reactive once inside an AD chamber. It’s the AD equivalent of taking a pre-workout sports drink and doing a warm-up. A caffeine shot to boost performance if you like.” Says Wade.

“In the correct combination Alps Ecoscience is seeing more complete digestion in a shorter period where AD substrates are pre-treated. In fixed capacity AD plants this can make a material difference to revenue. Producing more gas from the same volume at a faster rate with less residual solids so you can push more material through the digester with less stoppages. If this was an athlete, they would be asked to take a drugs test’, says McRoberts.

In an industry where you can’t build a bigger tank or churn the substrate faster without incurring significant fixed or variable costs. Perhaps it might pay dividends to look at the innovations in substrates preparation.

So where is the AD innovation coming from you might ask?

Alps Ecoscience are looking holistically across the AD production lifecycle and challenging their biologists with applying the theory of “marginal gains”. Identifying small incremental steps that in combination yield a better result.

In this instance, with Anerobic Digestion it happens to be at the very beginning of the production lifecycle. So, it may true that “preparing for success” applies to substrates as well as athletes’.

To learn more about how pre-treatment protocols can improve substrate solubility and propensity for complete digestion please contact Alps Ecoscience.

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