Newcastle University has installed a state of the art Anaerobic Digestion plant, which converts manure from livestock, along with energy crops and vegetable residues, into green energy, at Cockle Park Farm.
Anaerobic digestion is a microbial process which breaks down organic matter into simpler chemical components in the absence of oxygen, resulting in the production of biogas - generally 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide - together with digestate, which will be used for fertiliser.
This process will contribute to the UK's renewable energy targets and help reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.
The project, which is jointly funded by Newcastle University and ONE North East through its Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), has been set up to help farms become more sustainable creating energy from waste.
The facility has been installed to promote the uptake of anaerobic digestion, and is set to provide farmers and rural businesses with a valuable source of information and expertise.
Working with North East farmers, land managers and other related businesses, the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development ran an engagement programme through to September 2012, which included a number of workshops and a free feasibility assessment service.
The plant, once running to capacity, will generate more than 250,000 cubic metres of biogas per annum, currently being burned in a gas boiler, and 7,000 tonnes of biofertiliser per year. The mix of farm, University and residential properties on site will provide an opportunity to use the renewable heat and electricity produced to create a sustainable energy community.
Further information on the Anaerobic Digestion plant can be found here.