March 21, 2018

Optimising anaerobic digestion to produce sustainable energy from human, agricultural and food waste streams


  • Professor Alastair Martin (Engineering)
  • Professor Kirk Semple (LEC)
  • Professor Lawrence Ezemonye (University of Benin, Nigeria)
  • Dr Francis Boateng Agyenim (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ghana)


The overall aim of the project will focus broadly on resource recovery from organic wastes, including human, agricultural and food waste streams. Through anaerobic digestion (AD) of these waste streams, energy can be produced in the form of biogas. AD also biochemically stabilizes the organic residues forming digestate, which can be viewed as a resource rather than a waste. The project will focus on the following by combining scientific and technical approaches:

  1. To test ratios of different feedstocks for the optimisation of biogas production.
  2. To investigate AD systems and processes that are robust and reliable for use in West Africa.
  3. To optimise the AD system to control pathogens, e.g. process configuration, the addition of chemicals, heat.
  4. To consider the most effective way of producing a form of digestate that is fit-for-purpose for agricultural or soil conditioning purposes.

These objectives contribute to RECIRCULATE project’s main challenges by (potentially) reducing diffuse pollution sources derived from inefficient waste management; producing energy while reducing detrimental effects on human health; and improving water/nutrients use in the soil-plant systems. An iterative, collaborative approach will be key to the success of this project as it forms part of a coordinated group of research activities based in Nigeria, Ghana and other departments of Lancaster University

This PhD project will give the successful candidate the opportunity to carry out interdisciplinary research at the interfaces between engineering, agriculture and health, on a problem of immediate significance to communities in developing countries. There will be opportunities to study in these communities and with the academic partners in Ghana, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

The project has now recruited.