Reinventing anaerobic digestion

In this article, we describe the solution provided by Symbiona for an international dairy group. Symbiona’s AnoxyMem® system combines the benefits of CSTR anaerobic reactors with the advantages of membrane separation.

Symbiona’s client, a large international dairy group with a turnover of over EUR 400 million, was founded at the beginning of the 20th century and owns a number of factories strategically located in Central Europe – the very centre of the European dairy manufacturing industry.

As one of the most innovative European producers, the client invests heavily in new manufacturing and environmental abatement technologies. This has fuelled the company’s rapid growth in recent years, necessitating expansion of its production capacity and giving rise to new environmental protection challenges.

The group’s biggest manufacturing complex was served by an aerobic effluent treatment plant (ETP), designed and built in the 1990s and discharging to a municipal sewer system with a river outflow. After nearly 20 years of operation, it required an upgrade in order to both meet environmental regulations and be energy- and cost-efficient. There are three other production plants with ETPs located within 50 to 150 km of the main facility, in highly urbanised areas.

A major burden had been the high sludge disposal costs generated by the company’s ETPs, with finding an economical way of dealing with the flotation sludge produced being another challenge. Building separate sludge stabilisation or AD processes for each ETP would not be cost effective; however, a central plant processing all the flotation sludge from a couple of ETPs would be viable, despite incurring additional transportation costs.

This was, therefore, the basis for a solution envisaged by the client, whose relationship with Symbiona started some years ago when Symbiona successfully provided consultancy for ETP optimisation. Our experts also helped the client deal with new environmental challenges; delivering such results – oriented consultancy was made possible by Symbiona’s deep knowledge of the dairy industry market, and experience with turnkey dairy projects.


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Article published in: FuturENVIRO #33 September 2016