University Onsite Bioenergy and Associated Performance Research

We recently delivered a solution for the University of British Columbia Living Laboratory. The public standard for organics recycling includes full organics weekly collection plus bi-weekly garbage collection. This is now the norm in the BC lower mainland. But, half of the greater Vancouver population resides in multifamily buildings which have yet to be included in organics diversion. British Columbia has other regions outside the lower mainland (Okanagan, Vancouver Island, smaller islands, Pemberton valley, resorts and camps, northern communities, etc.) that would like affordable and scalable technologies to meet their zerowaste objectives. This suggests there is an opportunity to create an Applied Technology Center for Urban Organics Conversion and Zerowaste Systems – which would extend beyond the UBC Campus Living Lab concept. The opportunities include:

  • New metrics for food and paper feedstocks (the fuel), this equipment allows evaluation of overall organics generation rates, capture rates for diversion, and characterization of captured organics (protein, fat, starch, cellulose, calorie density, etc.) for a given population (expressed as per capita rates).
  • Overall conversion rates to BTU or GJ or GGE, as well as kW-electric, kW-heat, and mass reduction using various technology options.
  • Comparison of performance for CSTR single stage, CSTR dual stage, CSTR + fixed film reactor tri-stage, with variable solids content, residence time(s), operating temperatures, feedstock composition, mixing frequency, solids recirculation, supernatant recirculation, TDS concentration. This number of variables creates the opportunity to optimize a method to maximize capacity (capital cost efficiency) and energy production (operating cost efficiency).
  • Solid and liquid yields after digestion using a screw press, strain press, belt press, vacuum bin, or similar separation device.
  • Population demographics and their waste-to-energy ratio – how to achieve most efficiency.
  • Defining energy yields from urban energy crops, biodiesel glycerin, and FOG (animal fat, brown grease, and grease trap pumpings).
  • Vehicle fuel yields and exploring CNG/LNG/DME options for a “waste powered fleet”.
  • Cost efficiency and scalability of membranes, pressure swing adsorption, water wash, and amine wash technologies to upgrade biogas to biomethane.
  • Cost efficiency and scalability of biological, ferrous, and other removal technologies to remove sulfides from biogas.
  • Cost efficiency of preventive education vs. post-collection contaminant removal from organic waste streams.
  • Effectiveness of various odour control technologies for various methods of digesting and composting waste. For example we use biofiltration, carbon filtration, and counteractant atomizing in series with full enclosure and exhaust stack discharge on digestion.
  • Cost efficiency of digesting and composting bioplastics and compostable plastics.
  • Plastic degradation in compost utilizing fungi (Pestalotiosis Microscopa Fungi is known to thrive in anaerobic conditions and rely solely on polyurethane to survive).
  • Opportunities for public art, architecture, education, and public engagement in biomethane systems. The public loves the concept when they understand that food goes to energy and soil and then back to food. For example, we integrate architecture and London-style gas lighting into our equipment to generate interest and public discussion.
  • Sequestration of carbon by using compost, digestate, biochar, in newly constructed peat bogs, wetlands, and forest systems.

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