Though we at Harvest Power are in the business of anaerobic digestion, we realize the term might be new to those outside the clean tech industry. The concept is not so new to our European neighbors. In fact, recent information shows Europe to be two to three decades ahead of the United States in this arena. An implementation plan published last week, titled Accelerating the Uptake of Anaerobic Digestion in England, shows even more widespread dedication to this process across all UK economies.
A blog post by Econosystemics.com yesterday featured a comprehensive and accessible definition of anaerobic digestion, comparing it to the process our bodies use to break down food.
The article explains: “A wide range of bacterial microbes in the oxygen deprived (anaerobic) interior of our digestive tracts break down the complex organics of the food we eat, and feed our bodies as well as theirs with the nutrients. They do not do a perfect job, however, and our feces still contains abundant, energy rich organic material.
“A municipal anaerobic digestion facility utilizes a different set of bacterial microbes that live at much higher temperatures than those in our bodies. Those microbes thrive on our sewage, food waste, compostable paper and yard trimmings, generating biogas rich in methane (natural gas), as well as an end product of high-value compost.
“The latest generation of “dry” anaerobic digestion facilities are able to process the full range of municipal organics and are most favored for new facilities, delivering two strong benefits to the econosystem: biogas that has value as a “green” substitute for fossil natural gas, and high quality compost that restores soil health and productivity. The relatively high temperature microbial digestion process destroys all pathogens and most complex organics.”
Anaerobic digestion has the power to recycle food and organic waste, returning it to our ecosystem with the added value and ability to create fuel. It is consider a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable alternative to incinerating or dumping our sewage sludge into a landfill. Once we fully understand the benefits of this process and begin to implement it, we’ll be on track to preserving our environment and positively contributing to our ecosystem.
That’s a move that will benefit us all.