AD16: Anaerobic digestion experts challenged to do more with activated sludge
“Wake up to reality, the concern over pollutants in digestate will never go away. So go for a technology that produces new valuable products or more clean gases”, said professor Willy Verstraete at the opening if the 16th edition of the IWA conference on anaerobic digestion.
The conference takes place in Delft, the Netherlands from 23 till 27 June and is being attended by over 800 researchers and sector specialists from all over the world.
Verstraete made his remark to stimulate the global digestion community at the conference to continue its effort to improve anaerobic digestion technology, especially to make it cheape or to allow the production of valuable products.
“The anaerobe digestion community should dare to speak out on the potential of climate change abatement via CO2 and NH3 reuse”, Verstraete said provocative.
He specifically mentioned the production of protein. “Conventional edible protein from meat and fish is becoming more expensive because of its negative environmental impact”, he said and mentioned the option to produce proteins from ammonium that is recovered from digestate that results from anaerobic processes, such as waste water treatment (active sludge).
“The whole digestion process is focused on the production of biogas and its conversion into electricity or heat. We need to do better and find a new value chain”, Verstraete remarked.
Along the same lines was the key nota by executive director Kala Vairavamoorty of the International Water Association. He urged the anaerobic digestion community to choose for a systems perspective. “We must see water and waste as a resource”, he said and challenged the experts to maximize co-digestion of various waste streams.
More attention to operational costs
Professor Jules van Lier of Delft University of technology, one of the organisers, hopes that the conference brings more focus on the operational costs of anaerobic digestion.
The theme of this year’s edition of the conference is "Accelerating natural cycles with anaerobic digestion". According to Van Lier there has always been much attention for making digestors cheaper to purchase. “This year we want to focus the conference on lowering the operational costs. This should be possible by using natural micro-organisms to convert sewage, sludge, manure or agrowaste”.
Visit the AD16 Conference website for more information.