UK cold weather further risk to maize supply for Anaerobic Digestion

With some of the coldest late spring nights on record, maize crops are being seeded later than planned in 2021 to according to Farmers Guide. This UK cold weather is a potential risk to maize feedstock for anaerobic digestion (AD).

With favourable summer weather the maize yield may not be affected. However, there still may be a risk of lower volumes, especially for those relying on maize as a primary feedstock for anaerobic digestion. Lower availability will undoubtedly push up feedstock prices and impact gas yields. The pressure will be on to maximise operational efficiency to maintain operating margin. Hopes for the post Covid-19 biogas bounce-back may diminish.

However, there is a potential solution on the biogas production side. A way to increase the CH4 per tonne from your maize. The solution pioneered by Alps Ecoscience is the addition of a bio-organic catalyst into the AD production cycle, either at the feedstock mixing stage or directly into the digester.

The patented bio-organic catalyst is especially effective at increasing the release of sugars and starch from highly lignocellulosic feedstock like maize. The science is complex but to simplify, the catalyst helps access the fibres and increases the surface area of the material available to the bacteria in the digester. More of the feedstock gets digested, resulting in more gas release and less solid matter in the final digestate.

Multiple AD plant scenario’s show gains in gas yield (10%-15%) but also similar % gains in organic loading rates (OLR). As the digester consumes material more quickly the loading volume can be adjusted up or down.

When feedstock is plentiful or cheap digesters can be feed more quickly (great for uncapped gas to grid) or rationed to achieve a steady the gas yield for a lower volume of feedstock. Ideal for agricultural AD if maize becomes expensive.

We’re some months away from knowing the maize harvest forecast for 2021, but the summer months are the ideal time to test the impact bio-organic catalysts. Just in case you need some help later in the year if maize prices rise. And you don’t fancy a live trial when the stakes are highest. Not that Alps have ever experienced a digester that didn’t improve with the addition of a catalyst.

If this idea appeals, Alps Ecoscience can provide pilot reactors for benchmark performance tests so please get in touch to learn more.

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