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Managing anaerobic digestate from food waste in the urban environment: Evaluating the feasibility from an interdisciplinary perspective

Fuldauer, L; Parker, B; Yaman, R; Borrion, A; (2018) Managing anaerobic digestate from food waste in the urban environment: Evaluating the feasibility from an interdisciplinary perspective. Journal of Cleaner Production , 185 pp. 929-940. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.03.045. Green open access

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Abstract

Anaerobic digestion of food waste within urban areas can generate decentralised renewable energy, support community enterprise activities and thereby contribute to closing the waste-energy-food loop. However, widespread uptake of small-scale, urban anaerobic digestion networks is limited by economic costs and the safe disposal of surplus digestate. This paper uses an interdisciplinary approach to assess the feasibility of anaerobic digestate management through the installation of hydroponics or algae cultivation systems, based on a case study of a micro anaerobic digestion system in London, England. Results show that installing a dewatering sifter together with a hydroponics system is a technically and economically feasible option for digestate enhancement in the urban environment. Its installation is, however, not currently justified for the system under consideration due to cost, regulatory, spatial, and contextual constraints identified using actor-network analysis. Nevertheless, if regulatory and wider contextual issues are accommodated, and more than 30 litres of digestate are produced daily, a dewatering and vertical hydroponic system could result in a profit of approximately £100,000 over 10 years. While the microalgal system was also able to upgrade digestate, at present productivity is too low and the capital cost of photobioreactor technology is prohibitively expensive. This underlines the need for technical improvements and low-cost enhancement options to achieve justifiable paybacks until regulatory reforms and the wider economic situation are more favourable to anaerobic digestion treatment within cities.

Type: Article
Title: Managing anaerobic digestate from food waste in the urban environment: Evaluating the feasibility from an interdisciplinary perspective
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.03.045
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.03.045
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Micro anaerobic digestion; Waste-energy-food loop; Circular economy; Digestate management; Nutrient recycling
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Biochemical Engineering
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10045195
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