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th0012Anaerobic digestion is a naturally occurring biological process that uses microbes to break down organic material in the absence of oxygen. In engineered anaerobic digesters, the digestion of organic waste takes place in a special reactor, or enclosed chamber, where critical environmental conditions such as moisture content, temperature and pH levels can be controlled to maximize gas generation and waste decomposition rates.

Landfills generating noxious odors are often demonstrations of the impact of organic waste digestion in an enclosed environment with little or no oxygen. However, in the case of anaerobic digestion technology, the gases are captured, so odors are greatly reduced. Commercial anaerobic digestion systems can replicate this natural process in an engineered reactor that produces methane gas much faster (2-3 weeks compared to 30-100 years) then anaerobic conditions in a landfill. 

One of the by-products generated during the digestion process is biogas, which consists of mostly methane (ranging from 55% to 70%) and CO2. The benefit of an AD process is that it is a net generator of energy. The excess energy produced by the AD facility, which is not required for in-plant operations, can be sold off-site in the form of heat, steam or electricity. The level of biogas produced depends on several key factors including the process design, the volatile solids in the feedstock (composition of the feedstock) and the carbon/nitrogen (C:N) ratio. Each of these factors is discussed in more detail below.

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Did you know?

that Pytheas has presence in 41 countries?

that recycling steel saves 75% of the energy that would be used to create steel from raw materials, enough to power 18 million homes?

that recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4000 kilowatt hours of electricity; this is enough energy to power the average North American home for 5 months?

that the revenue that is generated from gambling is more than the revenue derived from movies, cruse ships, recorded music, theme parks and spectator sports combined?

that Pytheas the ancient Greek explorer, mathematician, astronomer and navigator must have travelled to the American continent at the time of Alexander the Great?

that in a lifetime the average European or North American will discard more than 600 times his or her adult weight in garbage and about a ton of trash per person per year?

that the Boeotian Hesiod about 3000 years ago theorized on the entrepreneurship typical of the market (an early laissez-faire), identifying the effects of government debasement of the coinage, which causes a decrease in its purchasing power (think Adam Smith, Keynes and post Keynes), arguing about the importance of competition and the importance of justice and the law in order to foster order and harmony in society?

that annually, the amount of garbage that is dumped in the world’s oceans is three times the weight of fish that is caught from the oceans?

that 1 recycled tin would save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours; 1 recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes; 1 recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours?

that of all the restaurants that are opened, 90% of them fail in the first year and of the remaining ones that survive, 90% of those fail in the second year?

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