Australian Centre for Water
and Environmental Biotechnology

Project Dates: 2014 to 2018


Anaerobic digestion is widely used by Australian municipal and agri-industries to treat organic waste and produce energy rich biogas. With so much large infrastructure now in operation, there is growing interest in strategies to leverage this investment and maximise biogas production. Anaerobic co-digestion (AcoD) is a promising strategy which involves simultaneously digesting two or more different types of wastes. Some municipal and agri-industrial wastes (e.g. livestock manure, sewage sludge) have relatively low-energy potential therefore co-treatment with other high-energy wastes (e.g. Fat, Oil and Grease) or wastes from a local industry (e.g. glycerol) can substantially increase biogas production. With additional benefits from diverting more organic waste away from landfill and potentially increasing the nutrient-value of the digested material. However, not all wastes are compatible and it is important that AcoD is properly managed to realise the benefit and avoid the risk of process failure. 

Current AWMC research is enhancing the fundamental understanding of co-digestion risks and drivers for the benefit of municipal and agri-industries. Experiments are being conducted at laboratory-scale to characterise the degradation properties of different wastes under different process conditions and leading to a comprehensive modal and co-digestion manual. Results are being validated at full-scale with the support of industry partners.