DairyWater researcher holds successful Green Farm workshop

March 28th 2017 saw farmers, technology providers, engineers, regulators and academics come together at the Teagasc Grange Research Centre to discuss the barriers to, and potential of, an on-farm biogas industry in Ireland.

Bio Gas Cropped March 2017
Delegates at the recent Green Farm on-farm biogas workshop, held in Teagasc, Grange, Co. Meath

The event was convened as part of the Green Farm project, a Science Foundation Ireland-funded collaboration between NUI Galway, Teagasc and Waterford Institute of Technology.  The project, led by Prof. Xinmin Zhan of NUI Galway, in collaboration with Dr Peadar Lawlor (Teagasc) and Dr Gillian Gardiner (WIT), is investigating the technical and economic viability of on-farm anaerobic digestion of pig manure and food waste.

The invited speakers included Dr. Denis Dineen of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Justin Byrne from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, John Toner of WIS Group, Conor McEntegart and Dr. James Brown of Gas Networks Ireland.  The topics covered included; an overview of the current “state of play” in Ireland in terms of the contribution that the biogas industry makes to Ireland’s fuel mix, and the potential role it may play in future in meeting targets on renewable heat, transport and electricity; the animal by-product (ABP) regulations which biogas plants in Ireland must abide by, as well as the common pitfalls experienced by developers applying for ABP licences; technology solutions that can be used in biogas plant development; and problems in digester operation due to poor design and specification; the upgrading of farm-generated biogas and injection of this biomethane into the natural gas grid.

Two PhD researchers from the Green Farm project, Conor Dennehy and Yan Jiang, also presented results from their work on economic modelling of on-farm biogas plant viability, and on the development of dry anaerobic digestion technology.

The 80 plus attendees were also led in a tour of the recently constructed 0.15 MW biogas plant located on-site at Grange by JJ. Lenehan of Teagasc. The digester is expected to be in operation later this year and will convert a combination of grass silage and cattle manure into electricity, which will be sold to the grid, and heat which will be utilised by the buildings on the Grange campus.

The workshop concluded with a lively panel discussion which yielded great insights into the impact that the introduction of a renewable heat tariff would have on the industry, the need to look critically at the potential of food waste as a substrate, and the crucial role access to finance has to play in the development of a biogas industry. The success of this “sold out” event highlights the heightened interest there is in developing the biogas industry in Ireland. The conference materials and key takeaways from the panel discussion are freely available from Teagasc. For further information about the Green Farm project, contact Conor Dennehy.

Latest DairyWater Newsletter Released

The third issue of the DairyWater newsletter has been circulated to stakeholders and is available online. The newsletter gives a round up of the activities of the project in Year 3, including the first DairyWater workshop, a new researcher and an insight into one of the project’s key tasks (“Ecological structure in laboratory-scale IASBR”).

New researcher joins the DairyWater team at NUI Galway

A new researcher, Peter Leonard, has joined the DairyWater team at NUI Galway. Peter will be investigating the application of an intermittently aerated sequencing batch reactor at pilot-scale, which will be located at a dairy processing plant, and is supervised by Prof Xinmin Zhan and Dr William Finnegan. The following is a short biography for Peter:

“Peter Leonard is a recent graduate of NUI Galway with a BSc (Hons.) in biochemistry, and originally hails from Mayo. Having also studied microbiology into third year, Peter’s final year project was to express TEV protease in different E. coli expression strains under varying conditions to achieve optimal protein expression. The expressed protease was then purified, quantified and its activity tested. Peter has laboratory experience in biochemistry, microbiology and chemistry, and particularly enjoys the challenge of working with complex experimental processes.”

SUSMILK Conference: Solutions for sustainable milk processing

The final conference of the FP7 project, SUSMILK, took place in Santiago de Compostela, Spain from the 22nd to the 23rd of September 2016. The SUSMILK conference, which was entitled “Solutions for sustainable milk processing”, provided a European forum to discuss solutions, technologies and industry trends to develop resource efficient milk processing. It was accomplished through a day of structured presentations, parallel workshops and poster sessions, followed by a day of technical site visits. Furthermore, it provided an opportunity for delegates to form new connections, share perspectives and brainstorm solutions. In addition, the DairyWater project featured during the poster sessions with a poster entitled “DairyWater: Environmental impact associated with the manufacture of dairy products in Ireland“, which was presented by Dr. William Finnegan.

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Images from the SUSMILK Conference
(Top-left: Panel discussion at the SUSMILK Conference; Top-right: Site visit at USC’s Dairy Products Center; Bottom-left: The Feiraco dairy plant; Bottom-right: Inside the Feiraco dairy plant; Centre: DairyWater poster during poster session)