Energy from Biogas

Countries Australia, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK


Professor Jerry Murphy
Interim Director SFI MaREI
Director of Bioenergy and Biofuels Research
Environmental Research Institute
School of Engineering
University College Cork
Tel:  +353-(0)86-055 4493


1.         Definition and Objectives

(a)  Definition

‘Energy from biological conversion of organic waste’ refers to recovering energy from anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste (MSW), sewage sludge, energy crops or agricultural residues (in conjunction with MSW or organic industrial waste) using engineered reactors.

(b)  Objectives

The main objective of the Task 37 work programme is to address the challenges related to the economic and environmental sustainability of biogas production and utilisation. While there are many biogas plants in OECD countries, operation in the vast majority of cases can only be sustained with the help of subsidies to be able to compete with the fossil energy industrial sector. There is a clear need to enhance many of the process steps in the biogas production chain in order to reduce both investment and operating costs. Task 37 started the process of optimisation work in the 2010-2012 work programme and will intensify this focus in 2013-2015.

Until recently the environmental performance of biogas production and utilisation was not assessed in a detailed manner and studies have started to highlight concerns about emissions of greenhouse gases at various stages of the biogas production chain. Task 37 started to address emissions in the 2010-2012 work programme and will focus special attention on environmental sustainability of biogas production and utilisation and establish best practices for emissions reduction.

In combination, process optimisation studies in Task 37 will attempt to significantly improve both economic and environmental performance of the biogas value chain where the end product is heat or electricity or biomethane for pipeline injection and use as a vehicle fuel, and will include utilisation of the digestate.

2.         Scope of the Task


(a)     The Participants will have R&D and dissemination programmes within their countries in order to meet the above objective;

(b)     The Participants will carry out co-operative research work towards reaching the objectives described in paragraph 1(b) above, based on the national R&D programmes referred to in sub-paragraph (a) above;


(c)     The Programme of Work undertaken will focus on economic and environmental sustainability of the biogas value chain and in particular on the functioning of the anaerobic digestion process itself and the options that can be taken to enhance process kinetics and specific volume of methane production for a range of feedstocks, through feedstock selection and process adaptation. Key topics and activities will include the following:

(i)         Feedstock and AD:

  • AD process optimisation,
  • AD of source segregated biodegradable waste and biodegradable fractions of residual MSW,
  • AD of sewage sludge/waste water treatment, and
  • Biogas from Algae.

(ii)       AD Products Utilisation:

  • Up-grading,
  • Biomethane as a transport fuel, and
  • Digestate up-grading techniques.

(iii)      Sustainability:

  • Life Cycle Studies, and
  • Emissions management along the AD value chain.

(iv)      Horizontal Topics:

  • Success Stories,
  • Support to Standards,
  • Workshops and Seminars,
  • Website, and
  • Newsletter.