- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Thesis title: Integration of Hydrothermal Carbonisation with Anaerobic Digestion: Opportunities for Valorisation of Digestate
I graduated from the University of Warwick with an integrated master’s degree in Systems Engineering back in 2012. During the degree I took an opportunity to gain industrial experience with an eleven-month placement at the Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology. Here I developed vital workplace skills including engineering practices, project management and teamwork and a general understanding of a working life. After a successful placement and final year group project on portable renewable systems I grew a keen interest for the scientific research and development industry. Having interests in both science and nature I wanted to find a role that nurtures my personality and capabilities. As a postgraduate researcher in bioenergy I can satisfy my curiosity and play a part in a role that considers the wider impacts and future energy strategies.
My research interests are in the use of thermochemical and biological conversion methods for the production of sustainable gaseous and solid biofuels including energy recovery and valorisation of wet organic wastes. Current challenges lie in utilising wet wastes as they are difficult to process by conventional methods. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is an established biological conversion technology in the UK for creating methane from organic waste. A by-product from this process, called digestate, is currently disposed to land. However, it is likely that new legalisation will come into place into the UK limiting disposal options. Interest is growing to find digestate enhancing technologies to increase the value of digestate, create new markets and decrease operating costs.
A thermochemical process called hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) can convert wet organic material in the presence of water at high temperatures and pressures, very much mimicking nature. Products include a carbonaceous solid called ‘biocoal’ and has potential applications as a fuel, adsorbent or soil additive. A by-product called process water is also made and is high in dissolved organics. This process water can be biologically converted using mesophilic bacteria to produce a ‘biogas’ rich in methane. Therefore, the overall aim of my research is to identify the potential of integrating HTC with AD to treat and valorise digestate.
Hydrothermal carbonisation can deliver a promising method to convert digestate into a safer, higher quality product while improving AD efficiency and operator revenue by increasing biogas yields. The extraction of valuable chemicals and nutrients, such as phosphorous, is also facilitated. Integration of HTC with AD has the potential to help reach renewable energy targets and create significant economic gain to the bioenergy and bio-economy sector, whilst maintaining a circular economy. This approach also has environmental benefits by reducing the disposal of digestate to land, mitigating heavy metal leaching and fugitive methane emissions.
- MSc Bioenergy, University of Leeds, 2015
- MEng Systems Engineering, University of Warwick, 2012
Research groups and institutes
- Centre for Integrated Energy Research