World’s first poultry litter anaerobic digester up and running

What is thought to be the world’s first anaerobic digestion (AD) plant using only poultry litter as feedstock is up and running in Northern Ireland.

What is thought to be the world’s first anaerobic digestion (AD) plant using only poultry litter as feedstock is up and running in Northern Ireland.

Located at Tully near Ballymena, Stream BioEnergy and its partners received the go-ahead for the plant in June of 2016. The facility first went into service in October last year, and it has now reached full operational capacity, reports AgriLand.

The unique feature of the plant is the use of poultry litter as the only raw material fed in to generate the biogas by AD. Farm animal wastes and slurries are widely as a feedstock, but their high nitrogen content means they are not normally used without being combined with other feedstocks to balance the fermentation.

A three-step process lasting around 45 days has been developed at the Tully plant, involving firstly reducing the nitrogen content of the litter, followed by feeding this material into a standard AD plant. Here, the two-stage digestion process. The end products are biogas, and a digestate that can be used as a fertilizer.

Annually, 40,000 metric tons of poultry litter from around 100 broiler farmers producing chickens for Moy Park will produce sufficient biogas to generate three mega-watts of renewable electricity. This is fed into the National Grid to provide power for an estimated 4,000 homes.

As well as the generation of sustainable power, the Tully plant reduces the region’s requirements for fossil fuels and emissions of greenhouse gases, offers a safe means of dealing with poultry waste, and provides 12 direct jobs as well an indirect employment in the area.

Based in a suburb of Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, Stream BioEnergy has been set up to develop AD infrastructure for the energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable management of organic wastes.

Providing technical assistance for the plant was Xergi. The Danish-based company developed the technology to reduce the content of nitrogen in the poultry litter that would inhibit the bacteria that produce the biogas during AD.

The Tully AD plant has received the 2017 Sustainable Ireland Award in the category of “energy generation” on the island of Ireland.

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