The management of food waste has been considered an extremely important issue since the 1990s but finding efficient solutions for small and rural communities is still challenging. Anaerobic digestion (AD) may provide interesting opportunities in terms of carbon emissions and economic payback in the long term, but the choice of the correct technology and the spatial scale requires attention. The focus of this study is on a small rural municipality, which is selected as a case study to assess the environmental and economic sustainability of the application of two options for AD (a conventional and an alternative wet process) and two spatial scales (municipality and a consortium of municipalities). Both the AD configurations are examined in terms of biogas exploitation, through a combined heat and power generator, and in combination with a post-composting stage of the digestate. From economic and environmental perspectives, the consortium-scale application of the conventional wet process is expected to generate greater benefits in the long term, as it enables 80% more electric energy production and economic revenues/savings, and avoids carbon emissions. However, before selecting the technology, decision makers should consider the public acceptance of local communities (e.g., the susceptibility to the “not-in-my-backyard” syndrome), as the best technical-economical solution may not be the most appropriate to specific communities. The methodology developed in this paper and the discussion of the results will inform decision makers about how to identify the most appropriate alternative for their purposes.

Evaluation of conventional and alternative anaerobic digestion technologies for applications to small and rural communities

Adami, Luca;Schiavon, Marco;Torretta, Vincenzo;Rada, Elena Cristina
2020

Abstract

The management of food waste has been considered an extremely important issue since the 1990s but finding efficient solutions for small and rural communities is still challenging. Anaerobic digestion (AD) may provide interesting opportunities in terms of carbon emissions and economic payback in the long term, but the choice of the correct technology and the spatial scale requires attention. The focus of this study is on a small rural municipality, which is selected as a case study to assess the environmental and economic sustainability of the application of two options for AD (a conventional and an alternative wet process) and two spatial scales (municipality and a consortium of municipalities). Both the AD configurations are examined in terms of biogas exploitation, through a combined heat and power generator, and in combination with a post-composting stage of the digestate. From economic and environmental perspectives, the consortium-scale application of the conventional wet process is expected to generate greater benefits in the long term, as it enables 80% more electric energy production and economic revenues/savings, and avoids carbon emissions. However, before selecting the technology, decision makers should consider the public acceptance of local communities (e.g., the susceptibility to the “not-in-my-backyard” syndrome), as the best technical-economical solution may not be the most appropriate to specific communities. The methodology developed in this paper and the discussion of the results will inform decision makers about how to identify the most appropriate alternative for their purposes.
biogas; food waste; wet process; Covenant of Mayors; carbon emissions; community scale
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11383/2096364
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