Creating efficient environmental management

18 June 2015

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Increasingly, industrial organisations both within and outside of the manufacturing sector are being pushed to consider the environmental impact of their operations.

The federal government developed the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) to support the industrial sector; the first ERF auction was held earlier this year and allocated $660 million toward reducing emissions in Australia.

This is a significant event for wastewater and environmental management; however it is often difficult to isolate the most effective way to take advantages of these opportunities. Anaerobic digestion and biogas harvesting offer a unique coupling of environmental technologies that have the potential to benefit both operations and the environment.

Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is an early stage of wastewater treatment that improves the quality of effluent prior to downstream processing. AD promotes the growth of micro-organisms, or bugs, which consume the organic matter that is part of the effluent stream. The digestive process of these bugs results in the emission of methane, a predominantly natural gas, accompanied by a small percentage of CO2—this combination is known as biogas.

Biogas diagram FB2

While AD makes significant inroads in improving wastewater quality the release of the biogas is detrimental to the environment as a carbon emission. The best way to combat this is to capture and combust the biogas; this can be achieved through two methods: flaring or replacing fossil fuels.

Flaring is a process by which biogas is burnt upon emission, resulting in a reduction of 95% of its CO2 content. However, biogas can also work for industrial operators if they choose to use it to reduce fuel consumption in electricity or steam generation processes.

Tripling up on environmental management policies means that industrial operations have the ability to reduce CO2 emissions while offsetting fossil fuel consumption and improving the quality of wastewater.

Environmental management can be a complicated process for industrial operators; it requires an understanding of emerging technologies and funding opportunities offered by both federal and or local governments.

Wiley are uniquely positioned to assist with such investigations and management plans, with a number of environmental projects under our belt we are able to assist industrial operators with improving the environmental performance of their operations.

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