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Institutes of Technology Ireland
Research & Innovation

Energy Recovery from Farm Waste

The 1991 EU Nitrates Directive addresses water pollution from agricultural sources, including livestock manure and other fertilisers. One method of reducing the risk of environmental pollution from agricultural waste is to convert it to energy. This can be achieved by the anaerobic digestion of waste to produce methane gas which can be used as a fuel to generate electricity. This practice is most commonly used in the management of large scale livestock waste or in sewage treatment plants, but is not suitable for use on smaller farms.

Established in 2004, GreenFarm Energy (Ireland) Ltd. has a specific interest in the extraction of energy from farm waste, using an on-farm anaerobic digestion system that is suitable for small farms. In 2005, with the support of EU funding, GreenFarm Energy worked with South West College in Omagh to develop new technology solutions for the extraction of energy from waste on small farms. The work resulted in specifications for a pre-treatment system that would be integrated with an anaerobic digester for the extraction of energy from agricultural waste.

The Centre for Sustainability at the Institute of Technology, Sligo (IT Sligo) became involved as a collaborative partner to verify the capacity of the new pre-treatment digester by developing laboratory techniques to analyse farm waste and to characterise its energy potential. This was facilitated by the commissioning of two lab-scale bio-reactors at IT Sligo. The bio-reactors facilitated the investigation of the energy potential of farm waste, and ran on improved-energy potential farm waste produced by the pre-treatment digester. As a result of this cross-border collaboration, GreenFarm Energy (Ireland) Ltd. developed anaerobic digestion as a specialist area. A prototype has been developed and tested and the construction of the full-scale system is underway. It will be the first on-farm energyfrom-waste unit in Northern Ireland.

Testimonials

“IT Sligo provided the project partners with an efficient and high level technical service on which decisions on the direction of the project could be made. IT Sligo filled a significant knowledge gap in the area of environmental biology allowing the project to design and test new equipment. At every stage having IT Sligo as a project partner proved highly beneficial.”
Aaron Black, South West College, Omagh

“The development of the collaborative research project has resulted in our company gaining a significant technical advantage within the marketplace for energy from waste systems. The assistance provided has assisted us in the planning, development, testing and construction of our demonstration energy from waste facility. Without this assistance offered by our project partners this would not have been possible.”
Gary Hawkes, GreenFarm Energy Ireland Ltd., Director

Client: GreenFarm Energy (Ireland) Ltd.
Institution:
Institute of Technology Sligo
Industry: Energy
National Priority Area: Sustainable Food Production and Processing

Head of Research
Dr. John Bartlett
Institute of Technology, Sligo
Sligo, Ireland
T: +353 (0)71 915 5314
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Project Manager
Dr. John Moore
South West College (Omagh Campus)
2 Mountjoy Road, Omagh, BT79 7AH
T: +44 28 8224 5433
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Research Lecturer, Innotech
Aaron Black
South West College (Cookstown Campus)
T: 0845 603 1881 ext 4224
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