HOW A PAPER CUP CAN HELP POWER YOUR TV

IBioIC project funding enabled Carbogenics to demonstrate that CreChar improves biogas production in anaerobic digesters.

Carbogenics is an award winning spinout company from the University of Edinburgh specialising in the production of biochar. In this IBioIC funded project the team aimed to test a variety of inputs to their biochar production system, such as paper cups and non-recyclable paper to see how they affected the quality of Carbogenics’s biochar product, CreChar®.

Microbes produce biogas

The world is gradually turning its back on fossil fuels and looking for alternative, cleaner ways to produce the fuels we need. Anaerobic digestion is a process where bacteria consume food waste to produce biogas and fertiliser. This biogas is efficiently converted into electricity with one lorry of food waste producing enough electricity to power 20,000 TVs for an hour.

A use for paper cups

Low quality carbon-based feedstocks such as paper cups, cardboard and paper crumble can be difficult to recycle. In this project, the team demonstrated that they could produce high quality CreChar® from these feedstocks for use in anaerobic digesters. What’s more, the CreChar® increased methane production in the digesters by nearly 15% indicating that methane-producing bacteria were happy living with the CreChar®.

CreChar® improves anaerobic digestion

A 15% improvement in anaerobic digestion is massive as a stressed anaerobic digester can lose a company £200,000 per year. Equally impressive was the effect the CreChar® had on harmful co-products of anaerobic digestion. Harmful gases such as hydrogen sulphide were reduced by up to 75% and unwanted ammonium nitrogen in the fertiliser was reduced by 10%.

Award winning innovator

Carbogenics were recently awarded £50,000 at Scottish EDGE14, which will help the team on their innovation journey to make CreChar® an essential part of anaerobic digestion.
Carbogenics are helping to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, while also upcycling waste that is difficult to recycle. IBioIC are proud to be part of their journey.