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Glycerol improves economics of anaerobic digestion


January 8, 2010
By University of Manitoba News

January 8, 2010 –
Researchers at the University of Manitoba have identified a strategy to help
North American livestock producers improve the economics of using anaerobic
digestion to produce energy.



January 8, 2010 –
Researchers at the University of Manitoba have identified a strategy to help
North American livestock producers improve the economics of using anaerobic
digestion to produce energy.

Research conducted at the
university has shown the addition of glycerol to swine manure at one per cent
of the total volume will double biogas production during anaerobic digestion
without compromising the process.

Master’s graduate Oswald
Wohlgemut says glycerol is of interest because it’s becoming increasingly
available and there are few uses for it.

“What we were attempting
to do was to simulate an anaerobic digestion process with swine manure and
glycerol,” said Wohlgemut. “Glycerol is basically a sugar alcohol. It can be
produced from several different industrial processes such as being a byproduct
in the production of biodiesel.

“It’s also of interest
because of the anticipated increase in biodiesel production in Manitoba and the
expected surplus of glycerol.”

Wohlgemut notes, while
anaerobic digestion remained stable throughout the experiment with the addition
of glycerol at one per cent of total volume, rates of two and four per cent
caused failure of the process.

He says the work suggests
farmers throughout North America who use anaerobic digestion to produce energy
can use glycerol at low doses to enhance methane production and if glycerol is
available locally it can be very viable.


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