Glossary

> Alginates

Alginate is a purified chemical substance obtained from brown seaweeds. These substances are organic polymers derived from the alginic acid. It has a large variety of uses: thickener for creams, detergents, textile printing inks and a wide variety of products. Alginate is widely used in dentistry.

 

> Autolysis

Process by which an organism is degraded or destroyed. It is the natural process of decomposition of living beings.

> Bio-Activators

Substances which, in small concentrations, are able to enhance chemical processes and make them more efficient.

> Biogas

It is a mixture of gases produced in the decomposition of organic matter under anaerobic conditions (absence of oxygen) due to the action of bacteria. Methane is the main component of biogas (up to 70%) and gives the fuel characteristics that make it interesting for use as a source of energy.

> Biomass

Biomass is all the material of biological origin which has not been fossilized and embedded in geological formations. It is also a source of energy since it can be transformed into biogas, bio-alcohol or other energy fuels after undergoing treatment.

> Biomass Boiler

An industrial machine that produces heat energy from the burning of a fuel from organic origin (preferably vegetal) and is used to heat water or even produce high-pressure steam that can power a turbine or have other applications.

> Buffer

The buffer effect is observed on aqueous solutions which keep a constant pH (within certain ranges) despite the addition of acids or bases.

> By-product

Final product of a process that may have a utility in another different (recovery) or the same process (recycling).

> Carcass Hydrolyzation

Enzymatic hydrolyzation of carcass with bio-activators consists on the use of an activator (i.e. alginate) of the autolysis (natural process of decomposition of living beings) of dead bodies, favouring the development of saprophytic bacteria. The free radicals of alginate give to this molecule a high capacity of ion exchange, so it can act as a chelating agent (forming complexes with other ions) of both metabolic waste and nutrients of bacteria (in particular, nitrates and phosphates), this last acting as a sort of “biological pantry” for carcass microorganisms (sugars and the structure of the product once hydrolysed provide immediate food and support for the activation and proliferation of predominant bacteria, both in aerobic and anaerobic reactors). At the same time, these alginates largely prevent production of foul odours in the vicinity of the hydrolyzation tanks, enhance the enzymatic multiplication so the natural autolysis process greatly accelerates, and favour the formation of nodulations (aggregates) of organic matter that sink at the bottom of the tank, where they will be digested in strict anaerobiosis (lack of oxygen). Ultimately, it is a process of anaerobic fermentation in liquid phase which does not require external agents (except the sodium alginate) to achieve the hydrolyzation of organic materials, as it is driven by naturally present enzymes and bacteria. The resulting liquid is thick, light brown, with mostly carbonates, phosphates and sulphates in its chemical composition. It presents no traces of the original waste neither in its structure (solid carcasses are now liquid) nor in its chemical composition (only remain traces of highly degraded organic matter such as amino acids, volatile fatty acids with chains lower than 18 carbon atoms and simple sugars) and can be easily withdrawn from the hydrolyzation tank by means of a motor pump in order to undergo the methanation. The whole process is simplified by two facts: the volume of waste has been reduced and it has become liquid, so easily transported.

 

> Coadjuvant

Product used to make more effective a particular phase of a process (like alginate, which enhances the activity of bacteria in the decomposition of carcasses).

> Codigestion

The codigestion is the combined digestion of a mixture of various by-products, with the aim of achieving a high production of biogas and the recovery of organic waste.

> Cogeneration

Procedure of energy production which obtains at the same time electric and thermal energy, in a single process, thus improving the efficiency of the system. This is so because dissipation in the form of heat generated in the conventional production of electricity is prevented through the recovery of part of this heat to generate thermal energy (in a boiler).

> Combined Cycle

In power generation, combined-cycle means the co-existence of two thermodynamic cycles in one system: one cycle uses steam and another, a gas produced by combustion.

> Digestate

Organic-mineral broth resulting from anaerobic digestion of substrates or other materials with different contents of easily degradable organic matter.

> Digestion (aerobic or anaerobic)

It is the degradation of organic matter in a process used by micro-organisms to obtain energy. All digestions are fermentations, but not all the fermentations are digestions. Fermentation in the presence of oxygen is known as composting.

> Energy recovery

It refers to those processes that recover energy contained in its different by-products or waste, usually in the form of heat or gas.

> Fermentation

Fermentation is a catabolic process carried out by different microorganisms which transform complex biomolecules in simple ones, producing chemical energy in the form of phosphate bounds and ATP molecules that are stored. It is an incomplete oxidation process, completely anaerobic, which final product is an organic compound. These end products characterize the various types of fermentation.

> Fertigation

Agricultural technique that combines irrigation with the supply of nutrients through the use of nutritional substances dissolved in irrigation water.

> Life+ programme

The Life+ programme is the specific EU financial instrument for the environment. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation by co-financing pilot or demonstration projects with European added value. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/about/index.htm

> Methanation, Methane Fermentation or Anaerobic Digestion

It is a biochemical process by which organic matter is decomposed by bacteria in the absence of oxygen, producing biogas which is a mixture of methane and other gases. It is the most appropriate fermentation for transforming wet biomass (with more than 75% of relative humidity).

> Methane

Main component of biogas, used as fuel in electricity generation from biogas plants.

> Pelletizing

Industrial process for conversion of different materials into pellets.

> Pellets

Solid material, made denser by compaction and granulation of fine particles of wood or any other type of biomass (cereal straw, MSW, etc.). They can be composed of mixtures of different materials and contain additives to improve their qualities.

> Pilot Plant

The pilot plant is a prototype on a smaller scale than a commercial plant. Nevertheless, it contains all the elements of the process. This allows evaluating and optimizing the performance at a lower cost and with greater ease to carry on research and technical adjustments.

> Saprophite

An organism that obtain its nourishment from decaying organic matter.

> Sewage Sludge

It is the solid fraction (albeit with a high percentage of moisture) generated as final residue in water treatment plants (urban or industrial).

> Slurry

Mixture of manure, water, cleaning water, feed residues, hair and peelings of farm animals.

> Soil Amendments

Different practices used to improve physical (i.e. texture) or chemical (i.e. pH) conditions of soil. They consist, essentially, in the incorporation into the soil of organic matter or other substrates of organic origin (treated sewage sludge, fermentation waste, etc.).

> Waste

Unusable portion of a resource (definition of the Royal Spanish Academy).

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