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The University of Southampton

Research project: TRIF PS - Particle size requirements for effective bioprocessing of biodegradable municipal waste

Currently Active: 

Funded by Defra Technology Innovation Research Fund

Project description

One of the fundamental factors affecting the efficiency of bioprocessing by either the aerobic or anaerobic route is particle size. This is because it influences many of the processes taking place: for example degradation rate, structural strength and stability, movement of liquids and gases, de-waterability, provision of macro and micro environments, and pathogen destruction. The effects can be positive or negative, and action to improve one property may adversely impact on another. This often results in a compromise in selection of pre-treatment methods, substrate types, and even the kind of process that can be applied. The research thus looks at particle size effects as a generic theme of fundamental importance to the treatment and diversion of biodegradable waste.

Experimental programme

The first phase of the work considered the pre-treatment processes currently in use for mixed and source-segregated wastes, and other technologies that could be applied. These were classified in terms of performance for different material types. Experimental work was then be undertaken to assess degradation rates for feedstock materials in different particle size ranges, using laboratory and pilot-scale aerobic and anaerobic reactors. Rates of degradation were assessed using kinetic data from in-situ monitoring and analytical testing, and practical interventions to optimise performance were identified. Novel methods involving freezing and CAT scanning were used to examine waste structure and its implications for gas and liquid flow. The results directly benefit both the practical design of pre-processing plant and advanced modelling of waste degradation processes.

University of Leeds
Greenfinch Ltd

Associated research themes

Theme Water and Environment

Related research groups

Water and Environmental Engineering Group
Bioenergy and Organic Resources
40-litre reactors for kinetic studies at different particle sizes
40-litre reactors
CAT scan of waste materials

Key Publication

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