From Biogas To Bioresources – Why ADBA Has Widened Its Remit

Charlotte-MortonFollowing its name change at the start of this month, we gave ADBA chance to explain why. Chief executive Charlotte Morton explains what ADBA now stands for and where the industry is heading… in a CIWM Journal Online Exclusive


Not surprisingly, the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry wants to see sustained, organic growth to achieve its potential, and so should all of us given the value of that potential: around 10 percent of the UK’s domestic gas demand, reducing the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions by over two percent and recycling nutrients essential to food production, as well as 35,000 jobs.

01-10-14-ADBA-AD-diagramThat’s pretty impressive for any one industry, but could the industry deliver even more? We think that as the impact of peak oil starts to bite, the industry could be producing higher value products that would also help reduce the industry’s reliance on incentives. There are already new emerging technologies which can help ensure the industry’s sustainability and at the same time unlock an estimated £1.2 billion in further private sector investment.

It is important to emphasise that AD has always been about more than biogas, not least the nutrients and minerals in digestate. So to ensure we fully represent all the current benefits and those emerging in the biochemistry and products arena, we have amended our name to the ‘Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association’ (ADBA).

As the industry’s trade body, we want to cement our industry’s position at the heart of the circular economy, ensuring that it always makes the most of the resources it recycles, and is thus at the leading edge of the new era, competitive on a world stage. We have and will continue to always support investment in R&D to help the industry adapt to and embrace new technologies and products as they emerge.

These emergent technologies are mostly only at the research or pilot stage today, but they will in time fit perfectly with AD, delivering higher value products alongside ultra-low carbon renewable gas and recycling valuable micro and macro nutrients. Science and technology underpin this transformation, creating a bioeconomy using our existing feedstocks to create new outputs including high value biochemicals.

Policymakers in Wesminster already realise this, too. Earlier this year, following its inquiry into the EU’s contribution to waste reduction, the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee published a report, ‘Waste or Resource? Stimulating a Bioeconomy’. The report focused largely on deploying new scientific and technological methods to reduce the 300 million tonnes of UK carbon-containing waste produced each year, whilst simultaneously generating high value products. Supporting ‘bioresources’ can help us deliver the sustained growth in AD we all want to see.

Examples Of New Technologies:

Some examples of the technologies and processes that will now be included in ADBA’s remit under the umbrella term ‘bioresources’ are:

  • Algae – links with AD in several possible ways as pre or post treatment.
  • Bioplasticsvolatile fatty acids produced during the AD process can be used to make bioplastics, which in turn can be used in packaging.
  • Chemicals – during the AD process long chain volatile fatty acids are made, which can be used as building blocks to make other chemicals.
  • Electricity – improvements in conversion rate efficiency.
  • Energy storage – improved storage of heat and electricity.
  • Gases – utilising biogas as a source for other gases like hydrogen or CO2.
  • Heating – developing new means to use the heat generated by existing AD plants to heat homes and commercial buildings.
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