Welcome to the blog of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton. This will keep you up to date with both student and staff activities.

The Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences includes staff with interests in biological sciences, conservation, ecology, environmental sciences, environmental statistics, geography and waste management. We offer a range of degree programmes and have a number of postgraduate research students. For more information about studying with us please visit http://www.northampton.ac.uk/.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Student Site Visit – Fernbrook Bio Anaerobic Digestion Plant

On 12th March 2014 students studying environmental science and environmental management courses at the University of Northampton visited the Fernbrook Bio anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at Rothwell in Northamptonshire. The tour of the 30,000 tonne per annum facility was led by Shaun Cherry (Managing Director) and Naz Ladumor (Technical Manager). The visit gave students the opportunity to view a commercial facility in full operation.

The AD plant treats biodegradable waste, which includes food waste collected from households in Northampton and Daventry. The by-products of the AD process are a methane rich biogas and nutrient rich digestate. The biogas is sent to a gas turbine to generate green renewable electricity sufficient to power 2000 homes. AD is currently the best system for recovering energy from food waste. The pasteurised digestate (organic fertiliser), which contains nitrogen, phosphate and potassium can be applied to farmland. Highlights of the tour were the on-site laboratory where samples from the process are analysed to show compliance with relevant permits. Students also viewed the inside of one of the large sealed digester reaction vessels through a viewing window. The biogas could clearly be seen bubbling off the top of the pulverised feedstock (food waste mixed with slurry).

This is one of a number of site visits that allow students to see processes discussed in lectures in the real world. It is also an opportunity for interaction and questioning of facility operators enhancing knowledge and understanding for all those that attended.