Waste-to-Energy in Jordan: Potential and Challenges

landfill-jordanEffective sustainable solid waste management is of great importance both for people’s health and for environmental protection. In Jordan, insufficient financial resources, growing population, rapid urbanization, inadequate management and lacking of technical skills represent a serious environmental challenge confronting local government. At the same time, energy remains Jordan’s top challenge for development. The energy needs to be produced in a sustainable way, preferably from renewable sources which have a minimum environmental impact. To face the future problems in waste management, as well as securing the demand of renewable energy, it is necessary to reuse the wasted resources in energy production.

Jordan has definitely acknowledged that making affordable energy solutions available is critical to support industries, investment, and attain sustainable growth. One option is to use solid waste to generate electricity in centralized plants. Waste-to-energy has been recognized as an effective approach to improve recycling rates, reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, reduce the amount of materials sent to landfills and to avoid pollution.

Waste-to-Energy Potential

According to recent statistics, Jordan population stands at around 9.5 million. The estimated municipal waste generated according to the last five years average production is around 3,086,075 ton/year. This huge amount of waste generated is not only a burden, but a potential resource for use in energy production. Considering the country average waste composition 40% is organic waste e.g. avoidable and unavoidable food waste (1,200,000 ton), 10 % are recyclable e.g. paper, plastic, glass, ferrous metals and aluminum (300,000 ton) and 50% are suitable for incineration e.g. garden and park waste, wood and textiles (1,500,000 ton) with high calorific value and energy potential (8.1 MJ/Kg) that is capable to produce electricity 340 kWh/ton waste. The high organic waste is suitable for methane gas capture technologies which is estimated at 170 m3/ton waste.

Technology Options

Nowadays, there are many technologies available which makes it possible to utilize these energy potentials. The major alternatives conventional technologies for large scale waste management are incineration, landfilling and anaerobic digestion. These technologies are affordable, economical visible and associated with minimum environmental impact. The production of electricity is combined with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the current energy situation (90% of the country energy produced from fossil fuel), the country emission factor is around 819 CO2-eq/kWh. However, the use of waste to energy solutions is considered to be a clean and definitely the amount of GHG emitted is a lot less than the gases generated by ordinary practices (open dumping and unsanitary landfills).

Construction of an incineration plant for electricity production is often a profitable system even though the installation cost is high since production of electricity often leads to a large economic gain. Landfill gas utilization avoids the release of untreated landfill gases into the atmosphere, and produces electricity to sell commercially in an environmental friendly manner. However, landfilling is associated with methane production. Methane is a potent GHG, contributing 21 times more to global warming than carbon dioxide.

Anaerobic digestion technology is another option. Anaerobic digestion not only decrease GHGs emission but also it is the best technology for treatment of high organic waste through converting the biodegradable fraction of the waste into high-quality renewable calorific gas. Currently, with the growing use of anaerobic technology for treating waste and wastewater, it is expected to become more economically competitive because of its enormous advantages e.g. reduction of pathogens, deactivation of weed seeds and production of sanitized compost.

alghabawi-landfill-jordan

Sorting at the place of generation and recycling e.g. paper, plastic, glass and metals needed to be practiced at the country level or at least where these technologies implemented. Incinerated waste containing plastics (not sorted) releases carbon dioxide, toxic substances and heavy metals to the atmosphere and contributes thereby to climate change and to global warming.

Challenges to Overcome

Waste-to-energy technologies offer enormous potentials as a renewable energy sources and to mitigate climate change in Joran. However, these technologies pose many challenges to the country and discussion makers. Currently, the waste sector is administrated by the government. Poor regulation and insufficient financial resources are limiting the available options toward adapting these new technologies. Private investments and collaboration with the private sector is the key solution in this regard.

Biomass Potential of Date Palm Wastes

Date palm is one of the principal agricultural products in the arid and semi-arid region of the world, especially Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. There are more than 120 million date palm trees worldwide yielding several million tons of dates per year, apart from secondary products including palm midribs, leaves, stems, fronds and coir. The Arab world has more than 84 million date palm trees with the majority in Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates.

Egypt is the world’s largest date producer with annual production of 1.47 million tons of dates in 2012 which accounted for almost one-fifth of global production. Saudi Arabia has more than 23 millions date palm trees, which produce about 1 million tons of dates per year. Date palm trees produce huge amount of agricultural wastes in the form of dry leaves, stems, pits, seeds etc. A typical date tree can generate as much as 20 kilograms of dry leaves per annum while date pits account for almost 10 percent of date fruits. Some studies have reported that Saudi Arabia alone generates more than 200,000 tons of date palm biomass each year.

Date palm is considered a renewable natural resource because it can be replaced in a relatively short period of time. It takes 4 to 8 years for date palms to bear fruit after planting, and 7 to 10 years to produce viable yields for commercial harvest. Usually date palm wastes are burned in farms or disposed in landfills which cause environmental pollution in date-producing nations. In countries like Iraq and Egypt, a small portion of palm biomass in used in making animal feed.

The major constituents of date palm biomass are cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. In addition, date palm has high volatile solids content and low moisture content. These factors make date palm biomass an excellent waste-to-energy resource in the MENA region. A wide range of thermal and biochemical technologies exists to convert the energy stored in date palm biomass to useful forms of energy. The low moisture content in date palm wastes makes it well-suited to thermo-chemical conversion technologies like combustion, gasification and pyrolysis.

On the other hand, the high volatile solids content in date palm biomass indicates its potential towards biogas production in anaerobic digestion plants, possibly by codigestion with sewage sludge, animal wastes and/and food wastes. The cellulosic content in date palm wastes can be transformed into biofuel (bioethanol) by making use of the fermentation process. Thus, abundance of date palm trees in the GCC, especially Saudi Arabia, can catalyze the development of biomass and biofuels sector in the region.

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Biogas Feedstock in the Middle East

Anaerobic digestion (or biogas technology) is the natural biological process which stabilizes organic waste in the absence of air and transforms it into biofertilizer and biogas. It is a reliable technology for the treatment of wet, organic waste.  Organic waste from various sources is biochemically degraded in highly controlled, oxygen-free conditions circumstances resulting in the production of biogas which can be used to produce both electricity and heat. Almost any organic material can be processed with anaerobic digestion. 

A wide range of organic wastes are available in the Middle East for anaerobic digestion. In addition to MSW, large quantity of waste, in both solid and liquid forms, is generated by the industrial sector like sugar mills, agro=processing, food processing, leather, pharmaceuticals and paper and pulp industries. Poultry waste has the highest biogas potential per ton of waste, however livestock wastes have the greatest potential for energy generation in the agricultural sector.

Here is the list of potential feedstock for biogas production in the Middle East.

Agricultural Feedstock

  • Animal manure
  • Energy crops
  • Algal biomass
  • Crop residues

Community-Based Feedstock

  • Organic fraction of MSW (OFMSW)
  • Sewage sludge
  • Grass clippings/garden waste
  • Food residuals
  • Institutional wastes etc.

Industrial Feedstock

  • Food/beverage processing
  • Dairy
  • Starch industry
  • Sugar industry
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Cosmetic industry
  • Biochemical industry
  • Pulp and paper
  • Slaughterhouse/rendering plant etc.

Anaerobic digestion is particularly suited to wet organic material and is commonly used for effluent and sewage treatment. Almost any organic material can be processed with anaerobic digestion. This includes biodegradable waste materials such as waste paper, grass clippings, leftover food, sewage and animal waste. The exception to this is woody wastes that are largely unaffected by digestion as most anaerobic microorganisms are unable to degrade lignin. 

Anaerobic digesters can also be fed with specially grown energy crops such as silage for dedicated biogas production. A wide range of crops, especially C-4 plants, demonstrate good biogas potentials. Corn is one of the most popular co-substrate in Germany while Sudan grass is grown as an energy crop for co-digestion in Austria. Crops like maize, sunflower, grass, beets etc., are finding increasing use in agricultural digesters as co-substrates as well as single substrate.

A wide range of organic substances are anaerobically easily degradable without major pretreatment. Among these are leachates, slops, sludges, oils, fats or whey. Some wastes can form inhibiting metabolites (e.g.NH3) during anaerobic digestion which require higher dilutions with substrates like manure or sewage sludge. A number of other waste materials often require pre-treatment steps (e.g. source separated municipal bio-waste, food leftovers, expired food, market wastes and crop residues).

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Biogas from Animal Wastes

The Middle East and North Africa region has a strong animal population. The livestock sector, in particular sheep, goats and camels, plays an important role in the national economy of regional countries. Millions of animals are imported in MENA each year from around the world. In addition, the region has witnessed very rapid growth in the poultry sector. 

Animal Waste Management

Animal waste is a valuable source of nutrients and renewable energy. However, most of the waste is collected in lagoons or left to decompose in the open which pose a significant environmental hazard. The air pollutants emitted from manure include methane, nitrous oxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter, which can cause serious environmental concerns and health problems. 

In the past, livestock waste was recovered and sold as a fertilizer or simply spread onto agricultural land. The introduction of tighter environmental controls on odour and water pollution means that some form of waste management is necessary, which provides further incentives for biomass-to-energy conversion. The biogas potential of animal manure can be harnessed both at small- and community-scale.

Anaerobic Digestion Process

Anaerobic digestion is a unique treatment solution for animal wastes as it can  deliver  positive  benefits  related  to  multiple  issues,  including  renewable  energy,  water pollution, and air emissions. Anaerobic digestion of animal manure is gaining popularity as a means to protect the environment and to recycle materials efficiently into the farming systems. Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plants, based on anaerobic digestion of cow manure, are highly efficient in harnessing the untapped renewable energy potential of organic waste by converting the biodegradable fraction of the waste into high calorific gases.

The establishment of anaerobic digestion systems for livestock manure stabilization and energy production has accelerated substantially in the past several years. There are thousands of digesters operating at commercial livestock facilities in Europe, United States,  Asia and elsewhere. which are generating clean energy and fuel. Many of the projects that generate electricity also capture waste heat for various in-house requirements.

Major Considerations

The main factors that influence biogas production from livestock manure are pH and temperature of the feedstock. It is well established that a biogas plant works optimally at neutral pH level and mesophilic temperature of around 35o C. Carbon-nitrogen ratio of the feed material is also an important factor and should be in the range of 20:1 to 30:1.

Animal manure has a carbon – nitrogen ratio of 25:1 and is considered ideal for maximum gas production. Solid concentration in the feed material is also crucial to ensure sufficient gas production, as well as easy mixing and handling. Hydraulic retention time (HRT) is the most important factor in determining the volume of the digester which in turn determines the cost of the plant; the larger the retention period, higher the construction cost.

Process Description

The fresh animal manure is stored in a collection tank before its processing to the homogenization tank which is equipped with a mixer to facilitate homogenization of the waste stream. The uniformly mixed waste is passed through a macerator to obtain uniform particle size of 5-10 mm and pumped into suitable-capacity anaerobic digesters where stabilization of organic waste takes place.

In anaerobic digestion, organic material is converted to biogas by a series of bacteria groups into methane and carbon dioxide. The majority of commercially operating digesters are plug flow and complete-mix reactors operating at mesophilic temperatures. The type of digester used varies with the consistency and solids content of the feedstock, with capital investment factors and with the primary purpose of digestion.

Biogas contain significant amount of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas which needs to be stripped off due to its highly corrosive nature. The removal of H2S takes place in a biological desulphurization unit in which a limited quantity of air is added to biogas in the presence of specialized aerobic bacteria which oxidizes H2S into elemental sulfur.

Biogas can be used as domestic cooking, industrial heating, combined heat and power (CHP) generation as well as a vehicle fuel. The digested substrate is passed through screw presses for dewatering and then subjected to solar drying and conditioning to give high-quality organic fertilizer.

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Food Wastes Disposal Methods

Food waste is one of the most prominent waste streams across Middle East, especially in GCC region.  The mushrooming of hotels, restaurants, fast-food joints and cafeterias in the Middle East region has resulted in the generation of huge quantities of food wastes. The proportion of food waste in municipal waste stream is gradually increasing and hence a proper food waste management strategy needs to be devised to ensure its eco-friendly and sustainable disposal in the Middle East. 

Food waste is an untapped energy source that mostly ends up rotting in landfills, thereby releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Food waste includes organic wastes generated in hotels, restaurants, canteens, cafeterias, shopping malls and industrial parks in the form of leftover food, vegetable refuse, stale cooked and uncooked food, meat, teabags, napkins, extracted tea powder, milk products etc. It is difficult to treat or recycle food waste since it contains high levels of sodium salt and moisture, and is mixed with other waste during collection. 

Food waste can be recycled by two main pathways:

  • Composting: A treatment that breaks down biodegradable waste by naturally occurring micro-organisms with oxygen, in an enclosed vessel or tunnel or pit
  • Anaerobic digestion or biogas technology: A treatment that breaks down biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen, producing a renewable energy (biogas) that can be used to generate electricity and heat.

Composting

​​Composting provides an alternative to landfill disposal of food waste, however it requires large areas of land, produces volatile organic compounds and consumes energy. Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost is a stable material with a content called humus that is dark brown or black and has a soil-like, earthy smell. It is created by: combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manures) in proper ratios into piles, rows, or vessels; adding bulking agents (e.g., wood chips) as necessary to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials; and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process. 

Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion has been successfully used in several European and Asian countries to stabilize food wastes, and to provide beneficial end-products. Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Germany and England have led the way in developing new advanced biogas technologies and setting up new projects for conversion of food waste into energy. The relevance of biogas technology lies in the fact that it makes the best possible utilization of various organic wastes as a renewable source of clean energy. A biogas plant is a decentralized energy system, which can lead to self-sufficiency in heat and power needs, and at the same time reduces environmental pollution. 

Of the different types of organic wastes available, food waste holds the highest potential in terms of economic exploitation as it contains high amount of carbon and can be efficiently converted into biogas and organic fertilizer. Food waste can either be utilized as a single substrate in a biogas plant, or can be co-digested with organic wastes like cow manure, poultry litter, sewage, crop residues, abattoir wastes etc. 

 

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Waste-to-Energy Potential in Saudi Arabia

WastetoEnergy-SaudiArabiaThe Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been grappling with the problem of solid waste in recent years. Around 15 million tons of municipal solid waste is generated in the country each year with per capita average of 1.4 kg per day. Depending on the population density and urban activities of that area, the major ingredients of Saudi Arabian MSW are food waste (40-51 %), paper (12-28 %), cardboard (7 %), plastics (5-17 %), glass (3-5 %), wood (2-8 %), textile (2-6 %), metals (2-8 %) etc.

Due to high population growth rate, (3.4% per annum), rapid urbanization (1.5% per annum) and fast economic development (3.5% yearly GDP rate), the generation rate of MSW is expected to reach 30 million tons per year by 2033. Waste management issues in Saudi Arabia are not only related to water, but also to land, air and the marine resources. The sustainable integrated solid waste management (ISWM) is still at the infancy level in the oil-rich kingdom

In Saudi Arabia, MSW is collected and sent to landfills or dumpsites after partial segregation and recycling. The major portion of collected waste is ends up in landfills untreated. Recycling of metals and cardboard is the main waste management practice in Saudi Arabia, which covers 10-15% of the total waste and usually carried out by the informal sector.

The landfill requirement in KSA is very high, about 28 million m3 per year. The problems of leachate, waste sludge, and methane and odor emissions are occurring in the landfills and its surrounding areas due to mostly non-sanitary or un-engineered landfills. However, in many cities the plans of new sanitary landfills are in place, or even they are being built by municipalities with capturing facilities of methane and leachate.

Waste-to-Energy provides the cost-effective and eco-friendly solutions to both energy demand and MSW disposal problems in Saudi Arabia. The choice of conversion technology depends on the type and quantity of waste (waste characterization), capital and operational cost, labor skill requirements, end-uses of products, geographical location and infrastructure.

Several waste to energy technologies such as pyrolysis, anaerobic digestion (AD), trans-esterification, fermentation, gasification, incineration, etc. have been developed. As per conservative estimates, electricity potential of 3 TWh per year can be generated, if all of the KSA food waste is utilized in biogas plants. Similarly, 1 and 1.6 TWh per year electricity can be generated if all the plastics and other mixed waste (i.e. paper, cardboard, wood, textile, leather, etc.) of KSA are processed in the pyrolysis, and refuse derived fuel (RDF) technologies respectively.

The current SWM activities of KSA require a sustainable and integrated approach with implementation of waste segregation at source, waste recycling, waste-to-energy and value-added product recovery. By 2032, Saudi government is aiming to generate about half of its energy requirements (about 72 GW) from renewable sources such as solar, nuclear, wind, geothermal and waste-to-energy systems.

Waste-to-Energy Pathways

Waste-to-energy is the use of modern combustion and biological technologies to recover energy from urban wastes. The conversion of waste material to energy can proceed along three major pathways – thermochemical, biochemical and physicochemical. Thermochemical conversion, characterized by higher temperature and conversion rates, is best suited for lower moisture feedstock and is generally less selective for products. On the other hand, biochemical technologies are more suitable for wet wastes which are rich in organic matter.

Thermochemical Conversion

The three principal methods of thermochemical conversion are combustion (in excess air), gasification (in reduced air), and pyrolysis (in absence of air). The most common technique for producing both heat and electrical energy from wastes is direct combustion. Combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration systems, ranging from small-scale technology to large grid-connected facilities, provide significantly higher efficiencies than systems that only generate electricity.

Combustion technology is the controlled combustion of waste with the recovery of heat to produce steam which in turn produces power through steam turbines. Pyrolysis and gasification represent refined thermal treatment methods as alternatives to incineration and are characterized by the transformation of the waste into product gas as energy carrier for later combustion in, for example, a boiler or a gas engine. Plasma gasification, which takes place at extremely high temperature, is also hogging limelight nowadays.

Biochemical Conversion

Biochemical processes, like anaerobic digestion, can also produce clean energy in the form of biogas which can be converted to power and heat using a gas engine. Anaerobic digestion is the natural biological process which stabilizes organic waste in the absence of air and transforms it into biofertilizer and biogas. Anaerobic digestion is a reliable technology for the treatment of wet, organic waste.  Organic waste from various sources is biochemically degraded in highly controlled, oxygen-free conditions circumstances resulting in the production of biogas which can be used to produce both electricity and heat.

In addition, a variety of fuels can be produced from waste resources including liquid fuels, such as ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, and gaseous fuels, such as hydrogen and methane. The resource base for biofuel production is composed of a wide variety of forestry and agricultural resources, industrial processing residues, and municipal solid and urban wood residues. Globally, biofuels are most commonly used to power vehicles, heat homes, and for cooking.

Physico-chemical Conversion

The physico-chemical technology involves various processes to improve physical and chemical properties of solid waste. The combustible fraction of the waste is converted into high-energy fuel pellets which may be used in steam generation. The waste is first dried to bring down the high moisture levels. Sand, grit, and other incombustible matter are then mechanically separated before the waste is compacted and converted into pellets or RDF. Fuel pellets have several distinct advantages over coal and wood because it is cleaner, free from incombustibles, has lower ash and moisture contents, is of uniform size, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

Merits of Anaerobic Digestion of Wastes

Anaerobic digestion is the natural biological process which stabilizes organic waste in the absence of air and transforms it into biofertilizer and biogas. It is a reliable technology for the treatment of wet, organic waste.  Organic waste from various sources is biochemically degraded in highly controlled, oxygen-free conditions circumstances resulting in the production of biogas which can be used to produce both electricity and heat. Almost any organic material can be processed with anaerobic digestion.

Anaerobic digestion is particularly suited to wet organic material and is commonly used for effluent and sewage treatment.  This includes biodegradable waste materials such as waste paper, grass clippings, leftover food, sewage and animal waste. The exception to this is woody wastes that are largely unaffected by digestion as most anaerobic microorganisms are unable to degrade lignin.

There are many advantages associated with anaerobic digestion process which may be classified into three groups viz. environment, energy and financial:

Environmental Benefits

  • Elimination of malodorous compounds.
  • Reduction of pathogens.
  • Deactivation of weed seeds.
  • Production of sanitized compost.
  • Decrease in GHGs emission.
  • Reduced dependence on inorganic fertilizers by capture and reuse of nutrients.
  • Promotion of carbon sequestration
  • Beneficial reuse of recycled waterProtection of groundwater and surface water resources.
  • Improved social acceptance

Energy Benefits

  • Anaerobic digestion is a net energy-producing process.
  • A biogas facility generates high-quality renewable fuel.
  • Surplus energy as electricity and heat is produced during anaerobic digestion of biomass.
  • Anaerobic digestion reduces reliance on energy imports.
  • Biogas facility contributes to decentralized, distributed power systems.
  • Biogas is a rich source of electricity, heat, and transportation fuel.

Financial Benefits

  • Anaerobic digestion transforms waste liabilities into new profit centers.
  • The time devoted to moving, handling and processing manure is minimized.
  • Anaerobic digestion adds value to negative value feedstock.
  • Revenues can be generated from processing of waste (tipping fees), sale of organic fertilizer, carbon credits and sale of power.
  • Anaerobic digestion plants increases self-sufficiency.

Many industries in the Middle East produce liquid and solid wastes that are suitable for anaerobic digestion, such as food processing, pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals, paper manufacturing and tannery industries. Some of the wastes might be difficult to digest as a sole substrate, but they can be biochemically degraded in combination with manure or sewage sludge. The combined digestion of different wastes is called co-digestion.

The relevance of biogas technology for the Middle East lies in the fact that it makes the best possible utilization of industrial organic waste as a renewable source of clean energy. Diversion of industrial waste from landfill sites and taking it to plants which can turn it into biogas and biofertilizer will ensure that it is treated in such a way that it becomes a useful product instead of a harmful one.  

Biogas Potential in the Middle East

Anaerobic digestion is the natural biological process which stabilizes organic waste in the absence of air and transforms it into biofertilizer and biogas. It is a reliable technology for the treatment of wet, organic waste.  Organic waste from various sources is biochemically degraded in highly controlled, oxygen-free conditions circumstances resulting in the production of biogas which can be used to produce both electricity and heat. 

Anaerobic digestion is particularly suited to wet organic material and is commonly used for treating animal manure, organic fraction of MSW, sewage and industrial effluents.  Anaerobic digestion is a unique treatment solution for organic wastes as it can  deliver  positive  benefits  related  to  multiple  issues,  including  renewable  energy,  water pollution, and air emissions. Anaerobic digestion of organic wastes is fast gaining popularity as a means to protect the environment and to recycle biodegradable materials efficiently. 

Many industries produce liquid and solid wastes that are suitable for anaerobic digestion, such as food processing, pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals, paper manufacturing and tannery industries. Some of the wastes might be difficult to digest as a sole substrate, but they can be biochemically degraded in combination with manure or sewage sludge. The combined digestion of different wastes is called co-digestion.

Biogas Potential in the Middle East

There is a large untapped potential for biogas generation in the Middle East which is mainly contributed by municipal solid wastes, sewage, industrial wastes and farm wastes. MSW is the best feedstock because of high organic content in solid wastes in Middle Eastern countries. On an average, more than 50 percent of the municipal waste stream is constituted by biodegradable fraction.

Huge quantity of sewage sludge is produced on daily basis across the region which presents a serious problem due to its high treatment costs and risk to environment and human health. On an average, the rate of wastewater generation is 80-200 litres per person each day. The handling of sewage sludge is one of the most significant challenges for municipal authorities in the Middle East. Anaerobic digestion is among the best methods for management of municipal wastewater worldwide. 

The Middle Eastern region has strong animal population. The livestock sector, in particular sheep, goats and camels, plays an important role in the national economy of the Middle East countries. Many millions of live ruminants are imported into the Middle Eastern countries each year from around the world. The most attractive method of converting animal wastes into useful form is anaerobic digestion which gives biogas that can be used as a fuel for internal combustion engines, to generate electricity from small gas turbines, burnt directly for cooking, or for space and water heating.

The food processing industry in Middle East produces a large number of organic residues and by-products that can be used as biomass energy sources. In recent decades, the fast-growing food and beverage processing industry has remarkably increased in importance in major countries of the Middle East. The mushrooming of hotels, restaurants, fast-food joints and cafeterias in the Middle East region has resulted in the generation of huge quantities of food wastes.

The relevance of biogas technology lies in the fact that it makes the best possible utilization of industrial organic waste as a renewable source of clean energy. Diversion of industrial waste from landfill sites and taking it to plants which can turn it into biogas and biofertilizer will ensure that it is treated in such a way that it becomes a useful product instead of a harmful one.  

Animal Waste Management in Africa

Livestock and poultry production are among the main economic activities in rural as well as urban areas of African countries.The livestock sector, in particular sheep, goats and camels, plays an important role in the national economy of African countries. In addition, the region has witnessed very rapid growth in the poultry sector.

However, livestock industry is contributing heavily to greenhouse gas emissions and waste management problems in Africa due to the absence of a sustainable Animal Waste Management System in the region. Most of the manure is collected in lagoons or left to decompose in the open which presents a severe environmental hazard.

The use of anaerobic digestion for animal waste disposal is an attractive way to address environmental problems, especially methane emissions. Anaerobic digestion of livestock manure is an alternative pathway for managing large organic waste loads and its associated problems encountered in large feeding lots and confined animal feeding operations.

Despite the numerous benefits associated with anaerobic digestion as a sustainable waste management strategy, these combined merits have never been quantified in African countries.The biogas potential of animal manure can be harnessed both at small- and community-scale. An essential aspect for adopting anaerobic digestion systems is the development of a methane market that acknowledges role of biogas systems in mitigating climate change.

With the present energy and pollution problem in Africa, conversion of animal manure as source of clean energy as well as organic fertilizer offers a great advantage. Anaerobic digestion technologies can help preserve and integrate livestock production within communities and create renewable energy resources to serve a growing bio-economy within rural communities.

Anaerobic digestion is a controlled biological treatment process that can substantially reduce the impact of livestock and poultry manures on air and water quality. An anaerobic digestion plant produces two outputs, biogas and digestate, both can be further processed or utilised to produce secondary outputs. Biogas can be used for producing electricity and heat, as a natural gas substitute and also a transportation fuel.

A biogas plant is a decentralized energy system, which can lead to self-sufficiency in heat and power needs, and at the same time reduces environmental pollution. The main features of a biogas facility are as follows:

  • Processing of renewable energy source
  • Reduction of malodors
  • Removal of harmful pathogens
  • Reduction of COD & BOD contents of processed waste
  • Production of organic fertilizer for green areas
  • Reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases
  • Production of relatively clean water for flushing or irrigation

Animal manure-to-biogas transformation has enormous potential in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and harnessing the untapped renewable energy potential of animal manure. Biogas can be used as a fuel for internal combustion engines, to generate electricity from small gas turbines, burnt directly for cooking, for space and water heating. or for running vehicles.

Bioenergy Resources in Jordan

 

With high population growth rate, increase in industrial and commercial activities, high cost of imported energy fuels and higher GHGs emissions, supply of cheap and clean energy resources has become a challenge for the Jordanian Government. Consequently, the need for implementing renewable energy projects, especially solar, wind and biomass, has emerged as a national priority in recent years.

Jordan has substantial biomass resources in the form of municipal solid wastes, sewage, industrial wastes and animal manure. Municipal solid wastes represent the best source of biomass in Jordan. Solid waste generation in the country is approximately 2 million tons per annum, with per capita of almost 1 kg per day. The daily waste generation exceeds 6,000 tons which is characterized by high organic content (more than 50 percent). Food waste constitutes almost 60% of the total waste at most disposal sites. In addition, more than 2 million cubic meter of sewage sludge is generated every year from treatment of sewage water in Greater Amman area which could be a very good source for biogas generation.

Apart from MSW, the other potential biomass resources in the country are as follows:

  • Organic wastes from slaughterhouse, vegetable market, hotels and restaurants.
  • Organic waste from agro-industries
  • Animal manure, mainly from cows and chickens.
  • Olive mills.
  • Organic industrial waste

Organic industrial wastes, either liquid or solid, are a good substrate for biogas generation by making use of anaerobic digestion process. Anaerobic digestion of organic industrial waste is fast gaining popularity worldwide as one of the best waste management method. The utilization of anaerobic digestion technology for industrial waste management would be a significant step in Jordan’s emergence as a renewable energy hub in the MENA region. Jordan is planning to implement 40-50 MW of waste-to-energy projects by 2020.

Biogas Plant at Rusaifeh Landfill

The Government of Jordan, in collaboration with UNDP, GEF and the Danish Government, established 1MW biogas plant at Rusaifeh landfill near Amman in 1999.  The plant has been successfully operating since its commissioning and has recently been increased to 4MW. The project consists of a system of twelve landfill gas wells and an anaerobic digestion plant based on 60 tons per day of organic wastes from hotels, restaurants and slaughterhouses in Amman. The successful installation of the biogas project has made it a role model in the entire region and several big cities are striving to replicate the model.

Organic Industrial Wastes in the Middle East

Organic industrial waste includes a wide range of organic materials obtained from industrial and commercial operation. Industries in Middle East countries produces a large number of organic residues and by-products whose disposal is a major problem for stake-holders. In recent decades, the fast-growing food and beverage processing industry has remarkably increased in importance in major countries of the Middle East.

Since the early 1990s, the increased agricultural output stimulated an increase in fruit and vegetable canning as well as juice, beverage, and oil processing in countries like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. There are many technologically-advanced dairy products, bakery and oil processing plants in the region. 

Major Organic Waste Generators in Middle East

  • Food/Beverage Industry
  • Starch Industry
  • Sugar Industry
  • Paper Manufacturing
  • Slaughterhouse
  • Chemical Industry
  • Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Dairies
  • Cosmetic Industry
  • Fish Oil and Fish Processing Industry

Solid wastes include peelings and scraps from fruit and vegetables, food that does not meet quality control standards, pulp and fibre from sugar and starch extraction, filter sludges and coffee grounds. Liquid wastes are generated by washing meat, fruit and vegetables, blanching fruit and vegetables, pre-cooking meats, poultry and fish, cleaning and processing operations.

Organic Waste Management Strategy

Organic industrial wastes, either liquid or solid, are a good substrate for biogas generation by making use of anaerobic digestion process. Anaerobic digestion of organic industrial waste is fast gaining popularity worldwide. Many industries produce liquid and solid wastes that are suitable for anaerobic digestion, such as food processing, pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals, paper manufacturing and tannery industries. 

The use of biogas technology for wastewater treatment is increasing rapidly for industrial wastewater treatment. There are thousands of vendor-supplied systems in operation or under construction throughout the world. Over 30 types of industry have been identified as having wastewaters amenable to anaerobic digestion treatment, including processors of beverages, chemicals, food, meat, milk, pulp and paper, and pharmaceutics. 

Some of the wastes might be difficult to digest as a sole substrate, but they can be biochemically degraded in combination with manure or sewage sludge. The combined digestion of different wastes is called co-digestion.