Process design and modelling of blended fertilizers from waste streams derived from anaerobic digestate and ash products of thermal gasification techn

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.




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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509504/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2021
1945857 Studentship EP/N509504/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2019
Description The possibilities of combining the digestate and the ashes to produce a fertiliser
Use of ash as chemical amendment to improve the stability (i.e. reduce GHG emissions, and leaching) of organic waste which is going to be used as fertiliser
The technology developed can be extrapolated to a wide range of organic wastes, including animal slurry. The stabilising agent can vary from wood ash to lime.
Exploitation Route Based on the development of the technology of stabilising organic manures and the pedagogic needs to schoolkids, a novel didactic proposal has been elaborated and published ( Thereby, the impact of this award reached the educational sector as well.
Other researchers can use the work (i.e. peer review publications and thesis) for a better understanding of the underlying chemistry.
The technology developed is ready for deployment, since it has a technology readiness level (TRL) of 7
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description The results of this award have been used as proof of concept when discussing the possibility of an university spin-off:
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description Agricultural transition plan
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to a national consultation/review
Description COP26 event organized by Prof Kirk T Semple 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact search for information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description ConceptionX 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I have been pursuing the commercialisation of the technology that I developed during my PhD by applying to several business incubators and project accelerator schemes. This includes attending all the workshops organised by hte Enterprise team of Lancaster University.
I have been accepted as part of the Cohort V of the ConceptionX programme and today (15th march 2022) I attended to the first 2 sessions together with all other PhD students, from all over the UK/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
Description Exhibitor in the Outreach Swindon Science Festival of Tomorrow 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact By attending to the festival, I had the chance of gathering ideas by seeing how other facilitators convey their ideas to a non-expert audience. Furthermore, during my session I was able to expand my network of contacts, both inside and outside the main sector of my research.
In continuation to what is written in the second page, which was the initial application of Mr Alejandro Moure Abelenda for this small grant, further details are included in this page.

The PhD student (Engineering Department and Lancaster Environment Centre) of Lancaster University prepared a digital exhibitor stand using the space provided by NERC in the internet platform Whova for the Swindon Science Festival 2021. As per the indications of Hannah Lacey, who is the Public Engagement Programme Manager, the student provided a short overview paragraph (in layman's terms) to inform the public about the content of this session about "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farming":

"The increase in consumption of dairy products and meat makes necessary to handle a large amount of animal manure and slurry. These material need to be manage properly to recycle the nutrients to the field for crop growth and prevent any pollution. My investigation was about the development of an additive for this organic waste to improve its properties as fertiliser."

Moreover, to prepare the session the student provided Sue Haydock (Events Manger MCIPR) with a Microsoft Teams link, at which the student would offer a life presentation during the event. During the session the students has the chance of exchanging ideas with:
- Guy Gagen: He was very aware of the topic of gaseous emissions from agriculture because of his previous roles in the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board of AHDB and as the Chief Arable Adviser of the National Farmers' Union. The discussion with Guy was about the cultivation of crops to produce first generation biofuels and the technologies to prevent emission due to the fertilisation of fields. Particularly, they were discussing about the commercial technologies available in the market for the biological treatment of manure, to improve the properties of this material and the management of the nutrients. The discussion also included the use of nitrification inhibitors and protected urea as source of nitrogen, instead of calcium ammonium nitrate fertiliser, as suggested by Teagasc (Agricultural Irish Authority). Guy found surprising the topic of the technology of chemical stabilisation that the student was developing as part of his research, because he did not know that Lancaster University was active in this area.
- Tomas Silberberg: He is an entrepreneur who is open to know ideas to apply them in a small scale (i.e. in his own garden). The discussion with focused on the technology that the Lancaster University student have been developing during his PhD. However, other topics, such as the use of pesticides, were discussed as well.
Furthermore, before and after the session the student was discussing the topic, via private the private messages option available in the Whova platform, with:
- Mr Bazil Solomon: Swindon Science teacher
- Ms Louisa Rowland
- Ms Kesavan M
- Ms Helen Bell
- Ms Habiba Behery

In addition to the his session on the 20th February, from 2 to 3 pm, he has participated actively in other events which took place on the two days of the conference, such as the webinar "How UK science leads the fight against Coronavirus" provided by Roland Pease, Prof. Martin Landray, Marty Jopson, Dr Nisreen Alwan, David Owen, AIne O'Toole, and Verity Hill.
Before the festival, I shared the following in the social (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter), the following posts:
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
Description Exhibitor in the Outreach Swindon Science Festival of Tomorrow 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 36 people visited my online booth were I presented the outcomes of my PhD in several formats: videos, photograph, live presentation, and journal articles
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
Description Make it happen! Project-based learning on developing an environmental technology of slurry processing to support local students from disadvantaged backgrounds and farming. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This engagement activity aims to inspire schoolkids to pursue studies in engineering and environmental sciences. The first stage of reflection of the educational action research led to identify lack of intrinsic motivation of GCSE's students to learn and deficiencies in active teaching methods, such as the classical project-based learning (PBL), where students do not understand their role in society. In order to address these challenges, a didactic proposal has been elaborated for A-level students (16 - 18 years old) of the subjects of Chemistry and Physics. During the 5 days (week commencing on the 24th July 2023) of the PBL (Make it happen!) students will have to address the real challenge of improving the management of slurry in farms, by developing a prototype ( that stabilises this material as slow-release fertiliser and reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases.
Didactic tools: In addition to the £450-prototype that each group of 3 students will have to modify according to the conveniences of the potential clients (farmers), an adapted template of the Business Canvas Model and a half-day session devoted to primary market research (pedagogic outing to West View Farm in Lancaster) will be included in this engagement activity (
Morning 1st day: students are introduced to the problem by providing them with secondary sources of information (i.e. articles, videos, and interactive surveys).
Afternoon 1st day: a Prediction-Explanation-Observation (POE) experience will be conducted to enable a basic level of understanding of the physicochemical phenomena (e.g. deliquescence of calcium chloride) that rules the functioning of the rudimental prototype consisting of 2 boxes of 150 L connected by an air conduct.
Morning 2nd day: students will have to apply the first modifications to the prototype (e.g. addition of lime to the slurry to promote the dehydration [tank of stabilization] and the formation of a brine of calcium chloride [tank of condensation]).
Afternoon 2nd day: students can continue to adapt the prototype (e.g. adding an extra air conduct to facilitate the equilibrium between the 2 tanks) based on their suppositions and hypothesis, which rely on secondary sources of information.
Morning 3rd day: the primary market research is organised (visit to West View Farm in Lancaster), giving the chance to students to realize about whether their action plans were really addressing the needs of the potential clients.
Afternoon 3rd day: students can continue with the development of a more sophisticated prototype, by adding a fan that promotes the turbulence and movement of air between the 2 tanks, enhancing the drying and stabilization process of manure.
Morning 4th day: students will have the chance of adding a propeller to enhance the mixing and reduce the residence time of both the manure and the brine, so the prototype can give response to the production of slurry of a small farm of 20 cows (producing 400 tonnes of slurry per year).
Afternoon 4th day: students will have the chance to develop a heating (and insulation) system for the tank of stabilization of slurry using carbon fibre cable and considering Ohm's law and Watt's law.
Morning 5th day: students will have the chance of optimising the performance of the sophisticated prototype that they have developed, via calculation of the mass and energy balances.
Afternoon 5th day: students will have the chance do a presentation of the artifact, to prove how their design responds to the demands of the potential clients.
As little guidance as possible will be provided to the 2 groups of students, hence they can develop their critical thinking and come up with more original designs of the artefact. This didactic activity is conducted in collaboration with the charity/company In2ScienceUK ( that promotes Social Mobility and Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
The proposed activity aligns with the university, faculty, and departmental strategic plans as it corresponds with public and local community engagement (including schools and agribusinesses). The engagement mentoring scheme of Lancaster University is complementary with the programme of In2Science (, which is a registered charity (1164821) and company (07706662) in England and Wales, and covers the costs of travel and subsistence of disadvantaged students, in line with the levelling up agenda of the UK government. In this way, the participation in the scheme of In2Science further develops our schools and public engagement programmes.
The proposed engagement activity with 2 groups of 3 students is a pilot to check the feasibility of implementing the engagement activity with more pupils (e.g. 15 students) and develop a CASE-type studentship activity, including the details of how the funds were used and the engagement activity and what these funds have enabled.
This activity also enhances the engagement training of the applicant, while being an early-career researcher, accredited as teaching fellow in 2021 by the AdvancedHE and awarded with a MTeach in secondary education in 2023 by the International University of La Rioja. The support of 2 student ambassadors, as agreed with the director of engagement of the school of engineering and the recruitment coordinator, is required for this activity. In this way, the engagement activity additionally promotes graduate-level work experience, entrepreneurship and the formation of local leaders for dynamization of society.
The didactic proposal also supports local businesses owners (farms) struggling to comply with the new policies of the Agricultural Transition Plan (i.e. slurry investment scheme) for which they need to cover slurry stores and lagoons to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and leachates.
The body of research that underpins the engagement activity has already been largely conducted, as can be seen in the attached article under review in the journal Environmental Technology and Innovation ( In the morning of the 3rd day, a pedagogic outing (visit the premises of the potential clients to understand their current state of affairs) will enable to listen the local community during the primary market research: Engagement with the stakeholders of the agroindustry to get first-hand information.
Furthermore, the collaboration between the School of Engineering and the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) ensures the best student experience. Particularly, the autoclaving (i.e. sterilization) of the slurry will be performed at LEC equipment (A33) before the second day, when student start to handle this material in very small quantities (up to 5 kg) with the prototype in the strong floor of the Engineering building.
The qualitative sources of data that will be collected are students' work samples (i.e. group annotations in the adapted template of the business model canvas), observations made by the facilitator (Alejandro Moure Abelenda) and the 2 student ambassadors (María Sánchez-O'Mullony Martínez and Patrick Mclean), an open-ended survey and an interview with the focus group. The quantitative source of information will be the assessment of the sophisticated prototype elaborated by each group of 3 students against a grading rubric (Table S.1 of These evaluation of the student experience and student outcomes is in line with the rating of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) that rates the universities and colleges for excellence above a set of minimum requirements for quality and standards. A publication will be prepared based on this anonymous data collection and subsequent analysis of the results, in agreement with the second and third stage of the educational action research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023