Recycling Agricultural Waste

For a number of years Sinclair Agricultural & Recycling Services have been involved in the recycling of wastes for Agricultural use, therefore it is a natural progression that the business should embrace the renewables sector as the next step in its environmental stewardship.

Our latest venture is into the renewable energy sector and we now have a fully functioning Anaerobic Digestion Plant on our own farm and we are showcasing locally how this technology can be a viable long term income source whilst also being environmentally friendly. A good summary of AD can be found below. As part of the assessment the farm has been growing maize silage for the last 2 years to see if it can be grown successfully under plastic in Aberdeenshire.

To read more about the maize please click here.

Anaerobic digestion is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. It is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste and/or to release energy.

The digestion process begins with bacterial hydrolysis of the input materials to break down insoluble organic polymers, such as carbohydrates, and make them available for other bacteria. Acidogenic bacteria then convert the sugars and amino acids into carbon dioxide, hydrogen, ammonia, and organic acids. Acetogenic bacteria then convert these resulting organic acids into acetic acid, along with additional ammonia, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. Finally, methanogens convert these products to methane and carbon dioxide. It is used as part of the process to treat biodegradable waste and sewage sludge.As part of an integrated waste management system, anaerobic digestion reduces the emission of landfill gas into the atmosphere. Anaerobic digesters can also be fed with purpose-grown energy crops, such as maize.

Anaerobic digestion is widely used as a source of renewable energy. The process produces a biogas, consisting of methane, carbon dioxide and traces of other ‘contaminant’ gases. This biogas can be used directly as cooking fuel, in combined heat and power gas engines or upgraded to natural gas-quality biomethane. The use of biogas as a fuel helps to replace fossil fuels and the nutrient-rich digestate produced can be used as fertilizer.

The technical expertise required to maintain industrial-scale anaerobic digesters, coupled with high capital costs and low process efficiencies, had limited the level of its industrial application as a waste treatment technology. Anaerobic digestion facilities have, however, been recognized by the United Nations Development Programme as one of the most useful decentralized sources of energy supply, because they are less capital-intensive than large power plants.