Heat pumps could see the carbon footprint of producing biogas drop by 36%.
That’s according to research by the University of Glasgow, revealing that air-source heat pumps can clean up the process of anaerobic digestion.
Biogas turns food waste into energy; using microorganisms to break down biodegradable materials.
This releases methane and carbon dioxide, which is then burned as a source of energy.
The scientists from Glasgow used machine learning and modelling to work out a way to quash what’s emitted into the atmosphere from this process, with a heat pump proving to be far more sustainable than natural gas boilers.
Currently, it’s the natural gas option that’s used to process the food waste and sewage at temperatures between 37.5°C and 55°C – but this produces excess emissions from the gas.
Dr Siming You, the paper’s author, explained: “Waste releases gas when it decays, some of which can be harmful to the environment.
“By harnessing that gas as a source for power production instead of letting it decay naturally, we can take strides towards the circular, net zero economy that we urgently need to build to reduce the impact of climate change.”
The scientists stress that if municipal waste management facilities were to employ heat pumps, the carbon footprint of industrial waste would lower significantly, whilst still providing a source of energy to reuse.
Dr You added: “[Using heat pumps] could also underpin the development of future bioreactors which could be used in remote communities to help people turn their waste into biogas.
“That kind of decentralised waste recycling could go a long way to helping people produce their own local source of electricity. The research is also part of a larger effort to decarbonise water and wastewater treatment in rural communities.”