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Department Of Energy Invests $5.1m In AD

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced its plans to boost the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry by investing $5.1 million (£3.93 million) in the sector.

It will be awarding the money to Colorado State University (CSU), with researchers at the education establishment working towards the DOE office’s ‘Renewable Energy from Urban and Suburban Wastes’ project to streamline the process to turn wastes into biofuels.

Ken Reardon, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, will lead the CSU team to improve the AD of organic waste materials with new bioreactors.

Professor Reardon said: “Broadly speaking, we want to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of waste treatment by producing a more valuable product and releasing less carbon dioxide.”

The CSU team plans to add renewable electrons from solar or wind farms to anaerobic digesters. These would change how micro-organisms break down large organic molecules, such as grass, by developing ways for the electrons to activate CO2 produced in AD. After this, the waste would be converted into hexanoic acid or isobutanol, both of which could be blended with diesel or gas to be turned into a fuel.

In addition to this, the engineers will look at ways to make the AD process profitable so that more industries adopt it in the future.

This comes after the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy revealed the share of energy produced through green sources in the UK had increased from 32 per cent to 35.5 per cent over the last year, showing Britain’s commitment to using more environmentally friendly fuels.