How Do Biodigesters Work? A Quick Guide to Anaerobic Digestion

How do biodigesters work

How Do Biodigesters Work? A Quick Guide to Anaerobic Digestion

Biodigesters can help farms to increase profits and reduce environmental damage. But how do biodigesters work? Keep reading to learn more about these vessels and their potential benefits. 


Biodigesters and Anaerobic Digestion

During anaerobic digestion, bacteria break down biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen. Biodigesters are vessels in which anaerobic digestion takes place. Waste like manure and energy crops are added to biodigesters. After this, bacteria turn the waste into (1) biogas and (2) digestate. 

Biogas: Biogas is made up of methane (50-75%), carbon dioxide (25-45%), a small amount of water (2-7%), and trace gases. It can be used like natural gas for heating and generating electricity. By removing carbon dioxide, biogas can be converted to biomethane. Biomethane can be added to the gas network or used as vehicle fuel.

Digestate: Digestate is the leftover material after the biodigester processes the waste. It can be used as a nutrient-rich fertiliser, compost, and soil amendments. Anaerobic digestion improves the quality of manure, as nutrients are more available for plants, and weed seeds are killed.


How biodigesters work

How biodigesters work 

Types of Biodigesters & Their Advantages

Biodigesters should be installed on flat surfaces receiving ample sunlight. The vessels typically last 15 to 20 years. They can work at different temperatures: thermophilic (55–60 °C) or mesophilic (35–37 °C). Thermophilic digesters produce more biogas, but mesophilic digesters are easier to maintain. Biodigesters can be small for household use or large for agricultural use. The right biodigester depends on user needs. 

Biodigesters have many benefits. Biogas is useful for cooking or heating, and digestate can be used as a nutrient-rich fertiliser. As a result, biodigesters can help save money by generating energy and improving crop growth. Biodigesters are also good for the environment, replacing fossil fuels with green energy. These vessels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing methane. They also lower CO2 emissions and prevent water pollution. 

Benefits of biodigesters

Benefits of biodigesters and anaerobic digestion for different sectors


The Future of Biodigesters in Ireland

Ireland currently has 15 large-scale operational biodigesters. This puts us well behind other European countries. The Climate Action Plan aims to increase agricultural production of biomethane to 5.7TWh per year by 2030. To achieve this, 150 to 200 biodigester plants must be built nationwide. Biodigesters will become more important in Ireland’s agriculture industry in the coming years. To help, Southern Scientific assists farms in getting planning permission for biodigesters. 


If you need help getting a biodigester for your farm, contact our team of experts today!

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