In this month’s blog post, WASE Bioelectrochemistry Researcher Isabella Bulmer explains Electromethanogenic Reactors so that we can all get excited about this technical-sounding scientific breakthrough.   

You might have heard of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) which breaks down organic waste to produce biogas. But have you heard of Electro-Methanogenic Reactors (EMRs)? EMRs treat waste more efficiently than AD by combining the biological reactions in AD with bioelectrochemical processes.   

EMRs fall into an emerging category of waste-to-energy technologies called Bio-Electrochemical Systems. Bio-Electrochemical Systems use electrodes to enhance the biological processes by utilising electrically active microorganisms. Having these two processes working together allows EMRs to accelerate the breakdown of waste and production of bioenergy. The increased digestion rate can be up to ten times faster than AD allowing smaller compact waste to energy systems.   

As the diagram shows, organic compounds are broken down by electrically active microorganisms on the anode producing hydrogen ions and carbon dioxide. The methanogenic microorganisms on the cathode reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) to produce methane. Unlike biogas produced from AD, EMR produces biogas with higher methane content increasing the energy recovery.   

EMRs are one of the ground-breaking innovations inside all of our biocentres, allowing you to unlock the power of waste. Our three biocentres are all engineered to serve three different sectors.   

  • industriWASE provides onsite waste-to-energy solutions for food and drinks manufacturers.   
  • agriWASE provides efficient energy and resource recovery within the agricultural sector.  
  • saniWASE provides onsite safe treatment for black water and faecal sludge providing municipal waste treatment to underserved communities.   

We specialise in decentralised waste and wastewater treatment solutions. Our circular approach to waste management makes EMR one of the most sustainable options for treating a variety of waste streams. We fully believe that Bioelectrochemical Systems are the future, they transform waste from a toxic burden to a sustainable supply of energy and nutrients that can enable communities to flourish.  

 

We hope you feel a bit more enlightened about the incredible world of EMRs. If you want to find out more about how this technology could help you, please contact us and chat with someone from the team by emailing info@wase.co.uk.    

22.01.2021 | Isabella Bulmer