Anaerobic digestion in MBT-plants: State-of-the-art

De Baere, L. and Mattheeuws, B., OWS NV


Anaerobic digestion for the treatment of the organic fraction from municipal solid waste was developed
more than 20 years ago and underwent rapid development since the mid-nineties. It is expected that the
installed capacity treating the organic fraction of household waste in Europe will exceed 5.200.000 ton by 2010. This will represent 20 to 30% of the biological treatment capacity for organics derived from
household waste. This growth was mainly due to the rise of biowasteplants up to 1997, but since the first
digestion plant on residual waste was put into operation, there was a strong rise in the combination of
centralized separation and biological treatment of residual household waste. While only 13% of the
installed capacity during the mid-nineties was derived from plants treating residual waste, this augmented significantly to 47% in 2004. However, the strong growth of capacity of Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT)-plants has stopped and since 2004 there is a steady-state in the cumulative percentage of biowaste and residual capacity installed. This is mainly due to the revamping or extension of existing biowaste composting plants. As a consequence, the percentage of cumulative installed capacity of biowaste/residual-plants is about fifty-fifty in the period 2006-2010.

A good example of a MBT-plant is the facility in Hille, Germany. This plant yearly treats more than 25.000 tons of industrial waste, residual municipal waste and sludge. The produced biogas is used for production of steam and electricity and also as a support fuel to purify contaminated process air.

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