Project

Abstract

Biochemical Methane Potential (BMP) is a critical parameter of research, conducted globally, and is related to the production of biogas from organic by-products and residues via anaerobic digestion by both public (e.g. universities and research institutes) and private bodies (e.g. technical companies), and therefore it is particularly important to obtain reliable and accurate measurements. The limited number of commercial measurement systems up to date, in combination with their high cost for the implementation of a recently developed, widely used protocol led to the idea of creating an economical, valid and user-friendly BMP measurement system. The scope of this research proposal is to develop a new, reliable and functional product that will contribute to the effective measurement of biochemical methane potential of substrates of interest to both the scientific community and the energy sector. For this purpose, two educational institutions and one company will collaborate. The Laboratory of Biochemical Engineering & Environmental Technology (Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Patras), due to many years of experience in biochemical processes and especially in the production of energy using municipal wastewaters and industrial waste, will be the central axis of the product development, providing the scientific basis and oversight of the system’s specifications and its operating principles. The Department of Product and Systems Design Engineering (University of the Aegean) will shape the product, contributing to the design of the system and the development of the prototype. The two research bodies in collaboration will control and optimize each stage to produce a fully functional prototype. The whole project will be coordinated by Green Technologies Ltd., which has a proven strong international orientation with multidisciplinary experience, participating in international projects with partners from many EU countries as well as from the wider Mediterranean region. Green Technologies Ltd. will be responsible for the dissemination activities as well as for the economic and commercial exploitation of the results of this project due to its existing market experience.

Objectives

General and Specific Aims of the Project:

  1. Development of a new, reliable and functional product that will contribute to the effective measurement of methane potential of substrates that interest both the scientific community and the energy sector,
  2. Conversion of the accumulated knowledge of research entities into a commercial product through the entrepreneurial and market experience of the company
  3. Extension of the company to new business objectives. Increment of its extroversion and penetration into international markets by exploiting the interdisciplinary nature of research institutions,
  4. Innovation and entrepreneurship promotion of the company and research institutions, strengthening the cooperation among industry, research, and investment funds,
  5. Enhancement of an economically and environmentally sustainable growth and employment opportunity to prevent the brain drain from spreading scientists and researchers abroad.

Scope of the project:

Biogas production via anaerobic digestion has been assessed as one of the most energy efficient and environmentally beneficial technologies for bioenergy production. It can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels with the use of locally available resources. In research regarding anaerobic digestion, biogas and/or methane production is one of the most critical parameters because of its economic value but also because it is related to the nature of the degraded substrate. Nevertheless, there are many examples in the scientific literature, where methods of collecting, storing, measuring and calculating the volume of biogas or methane are poorly documented and subject to significant errors. Since the biochemical methane potential (BMP) tests are easier to perform than continuous experiments, they are considered state-of-the-art to determine the methane yield of a substrate which is of great importance for the design and operation of anaerobic bioreactors. One of the most applied standard protocols for the performance of BMP tests is that published by the Task Group for the Anaerobic Biodegradation, Activity and Inhibition of the International Water Association (IWA) in 2009, which has been reported by 504 scientific publications according to Scopus (May 2017). Several other protocols have been applied occasionally for several years, but the formulation of essential parameters remains unclear. This leaves too much freedom for interpretation and ultimately leads to the use of different testing protocols among laboratories. Among the parameters to be considered for the correct design of the BMP measurement are the correct experimental design, the type and quality of the inoculum and its proper preparation, the type of substrate and its physicochemical characterization and, the experimental device. The purpose of this proposal is to create an integrated system of BMP measurement, with a differentiated system of measurement from the few existing commercial products. The goal is to achieve reliable results through a quality product at the lowest possible cost so that it can be competitive and gain a share in the market over standard gas analyzers. An integrated planning process will be used to ensure that the final product has a low cost of production and assembly, high quality, reliability, repeatability, and robustness. Mechanical design procedures will be followed using computer and programming techniques as described in the current literature.

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