Anaerobic Digestion Success for a UK Food Waste Plant


Source: KIRK UK

KIRK ENVIRONMENTAL, part of KIRK GROUP, was awarded a contract back in 2008 for one of the first commercial biogas plants in the UK which was the start of a 6 year relationship with the customer and two extensions to the initial plant.

Cannington Cold Stores is a family business based in Somerset, UK, which began storing vegetables for local companies. The business then expanded into providing washed, peeled, prepared and packaged products to UK’s leading supermarkets and today they can offer chilled, frozen and ambient temperature storage facilities with a capacity in excess of 10,000 pallets.

In early 2008 the business were facing increasing power utility bills and decided to carry out some exploratory research into creating renewable energy from food waste. Cannington Bio-Energy was established to fulfil their corporate responsibility by producing an affordable renewable energy solution for their cold storage plant through the use of Anaerobic Digestion and waste management.

KIRK ENVIRONEMNTAL were initially approached to design, supply and construct two Anaerobic Digestion Tanks and two Pasteurisation Tanks. This was one of the first plants in the UK to also have the digester tanks incorporating with the now industry-leading BIODOME® Double Membrane Gas Holder roof to store the biogas produced during the treatment of the food waste ready for conversion to renewable electricity.

The initial project was a great success, with enough energy being produced to not only power the cold storage plant but also to create extra revenue for the customer by being able to release the surplus energy back into the National Grid. This resulted in an extension to the plant in 2011 with a further Digester Tank and Pasteurisation Tank being added by KIRK. Now in 2014 KIRK are currently working on a second extension to the site which will see the addition of 3 more Digester Tanks and four Pasteurisers, all is on track for completion in summer 2014 bringing the total digestion volume on site to an incredible 18,000m³ with a generating capacity in excess of 3.3 MW

Typically food waste, when disposed of to landfill, can generate large quantities of methane gas, contributing to global warming as greenhouse gas. By treating the food waste in the digesters and capturing the biogas in the BIODOME® roofs, Cannington Bio-Energy are utilising the food waste to create renewable energy and doing their part in helping protect the environment. They process a wide range of different wood waste including liquids, plant material and animal by-product, also taking that extra step by separating packaging from the waste and recycling as much as possible. After their successful experience with anaerobic digestion and recycling, Cannington Bio-Energy now also work closely with local authorities, contractors and businesses providing them with valuable advice on how to process and treat their waste.

“We have used Kirk for all three phases of the development of our plant,” explains Tim Roe from Cannington Cold Stores.

“Ever since our first contact with them they have been both professional and flexible to their approach for providing the required tanks. The entire tank procurement and erection process has been relatively straight forward and hassle free.”

Each Digester Tank was constructed from Glass-Fused-to-Steel panels, a well-established and proven tank finish which leads the market with quick installation times, low maintenance and long project asset life. The high temperature fusion of glass to steel fired at 850°C results in an inert, durable finish. Applied to both interior and exterior, this technology is able to withstand the rigorous of a construction site and provide many years of trouble free service in harsh environments.

The award-winning BIODOME® Double Membrane gas holder is a state-of the-art construction with utilises the highest strength membrane available in the global market making it suitable for a wide range of working gas pressures, storage volumes and gas production rates. Produced in the UK with the latest machinery and production techniques enables KIRK to deliver better production time scales and quality controls, always providing the best possible service to customers in the Wastewater and Bioenergy markets throughout the world.

By installing the gas holder on top of the digester rather than having it as a stand-alone unit provided Cannington Cold Stores with some major benefits never before experienced in the UK. A ground-mounted stand-alone gas holder would require a concrete base to be built on and additional pipework to connect it to the digester tank which would have needed to be constructed with a steel roof. All of these extra requirements would have had a significant impact on the capital cost of the project. A top-mounted gas holder also results in further reductions to a project foot-prints and a lower maintenance regime. The outer membrane of the gas holder is constantly inflated by utilising electrically operated blowers. When gas production exceeds the rate of use, the internal membrane rises and vice versa, when the gas usage exceeds the rate of production, the internal membrane falls, with the air pressure inside the air compartment maintaining the system pressure.

“We are delighted to have involved in the development of the Cannington Bio-Energy facility over the last few years”, comments Andrew Peace, Managing Director at KIRK GROUP.

“Our team has worked closely with the customer to understand their plans and technical requirements and to ensure that the items of the plant provided by KIRK were delivered on time and within budget. Hopefully we will continue our involvement for many years to come and support Cannington Cold Stores through any future stages of development and upgrading”.

In 2013 BIODOME® won the Environmental Technology Business of the Year in the Red Rose Awards, recognising the portfolio of completed projects and the amazing statistics of carbon footprints reduction and green energy generation at a large number of plants across the UK. Joining this award was also the title of Environmental Innovation at the 2013 Lancashire Business Environment Awards, highlighting new technologies and services that other organisations would benefit from. The product needed to be tried and tested to enter the awards with quantified benefits to business practices, environmental impact and sustainability. In 2013 the BIODOME® product saw some innovative advancements in product specifications and greater safety control levels; strategic partnerships developments and considerable investments in research & development resulted in a change to the equipment offered to both gas pressure relief and air envelope regulation. These improvements, together with the manufacture of the product based in the UK, places the product as the industry-leader with proven results and advantages.

“It is great a great honour to be recognised in our local community for the work we do”, comments Bill Leach, CEO of KIRK GROUP.

“We are always reviewing our ever growing product range, always providing excellence in liquid and biogas storage solutions. Our knowledge, expertise, product quality and customer service are the foundations to the great success at the Cannington Cold Stores Anaerobic Digestion Plant.”

KIRK always aims to deliver industry leading customer service and product quality with every project: we plan, organise, direct and control all resources required to deliver the work on time, working closely with the client and other key suppliers to form a project team that will ensure all interface issues are managed throughout project implementation, thus providing a smooth transition through the varying scope of work. KIRK has invested considerable amount of time and resources into systems and procedures that allow the highest certification and accreditations in the industry to be gained and maintained. These procedures and certifications ensure that our management systems and project performance will satisfy the expectations of any client.

Taking a leading stand at this year’s UK AD & Biogas Exhibition at the NEC Birmingham, KIRK ENVIRONMENTAL is currently the only UK Company in a position to offer an unbiased opinion on the subject of tank selection thanks to an industry-leading product portfolio which includes: glass-fused-to-steel tanks, epoxy coated steel tanks, poured in situ concrete tanks, pre-cast concrete tanks, biogas storage and in-house manufactured steel fabrication.

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