The Surrey Biofuel Facility is like a science laboratory in your own backyard! Are you interested in learning more about the science of producing biogas from waste or the magic of compost? The following are a few of the topics you may want to investigate further with a visit to our facility.

Science Topics

Anaerobic digestion - Anaerobic digestion is the simple, natural breakdown of organic matter into carbon dioxide, methane and water by two groups of microorganisms, bacteria and archaea. Since many of these organisms are intolerant to oxygen, this process is known as anaerobic.

E-nose – An electronic nose detects the chemical components of an odour and performs analysis to identify it based on that information. Every odour is made up of molecules and each molecule is a particular size and shape, which corresponds to a similarly sized-and-shaped receptor in the human nose. When specific receptors in a human nose receive their matching molecules, they send signals to the brain, which identifies the smell associated with those particular molecules. An e-nose is based on the biological model work similarly, substituting sensors for receptors and transmitting the signal to a software program for processing, rather than to the brain. Check out the e-nose sensors at our facility.

Microorganisms bacteria and archaea - The number of bacteria in the world is estimated to be around 5 million trillion trillion. There are more bacteria on earth than there are stars in the universe! These single cell microorganisms are found everywhere in nature, from glaciers to temperature 140 °C. Bacteria reproduce by a kind of cell division called binary fission. Binary fission results in the formation of two bacterial cells that are genetically identical. Archaea are also single cell microorganisms but have a cell membrane different to bacteria. Archaea are able to withstand extreme conditions and can reside in environments like hydrothermal vents, sulfuric waters or acidic streams. They can absorb carbon dioxide, hydrogen, sulfur or ammonia to acquire food. See the conditions where bacteria and archaea are at work at the Surrey Biofuel Facility.

Biogas – Biogas is a mixture of approximately 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide, and contains trace contaminants like hydrogen sulphide. Water scrubbing is used to remove the carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide since these gases are more soluble in water than methane. The end product, which is renewable natural gas, is dried and injected into the grid. See where the upgraded biogas feeds into the natural gas grid at the Surrey Biofuel Facility.

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