Bio-waste innovators Finn Biogas win $1m support for localised modular energy plants

BRISBANE-BASED engineering company Finn Biogas has a breakthrough bio-energy technology that will transform the way organic waste is disposed – and the firm has just received a $1 million grant through the Federal Government’s Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) in support.

Propelled by the grant, which was awarded earlier this month, Finn Biogas’s renewable energy prototype dubbed the Micro Modular Anaerobic Digester (MMAD) system – a small-scale energy recovery waste management solution – will turn organic waste into energy. 

Finn Biogas founder and managing director Jason Hawley said the MMAD system was the first of its kind in Australia and would empower businesses and their employees to divert organic waste from landfill.  

“Through innovative technology, we are optimistic that together we can make waste work and embrace a brighter future and circular economy through restorative and regenerative energy,” Mr Hawley said. 

“Organic waste management is already highly developed at an industrial scale, however it is difficult to manage at an urban scale, as waste generally comes in small volumes and is segregated across the city.  

“The design of our MMAD system is tripled layered and provides both social and environmental benefits, including the diversion of waste from landfill, a reduction in greenhouse gases and the production of nutrient-rich fertiliser which would have otherwise gone to waste.” 

Australia is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, wasting on average 7.3 million tonnes of food annually, which equates to around 300kg per person, according to research published by the Federal Department of Environment. 

“Often food waste is co-mingled with general waste, creating health hazards for the community and negatively impacting the environment with greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Hawley said. 

“Our MMAD system transforms organic waste into energy and a fertiliser substitute, which can be used in green spaces around the city.”  

Recognising the increase in food wastage, several local councils across the eastern seaboard of Australia are currently trialling Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) bin collections, in which organic waste is collected and turned into compost.  

“In Australia, we’re lucky to have local councils that take away our general, recycling and green waste – and we’re hopeful that the MMAD prototype will see specialised FOGO bin collections introduced permanently,” Mr Hawley said. 

“As our system turns waste into energy and nutrient-rich fertiliser, councils will be able to have their own MMAD system – thereby creating their own energy to use within the community.” 

One fleet of MMAD systems, comprising five precincts, would divert about 1,000 tonnes of waste from landfill and mitigate almost 2,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions.  

“Scaled across Australia, we could divert up to 21,000 tonnes of waste from landfill and mitigate approximately 55,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions – in just one year,” Mr Hawley said. 

Expected to start construction in Brisbane in early 2022 and be fully operational from mid-2022, the MMAD system will be developed as part the ‘turning office trash into energy treasure’ challenge led by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). 

Wholly Australian owned, Mr Hawley said Finn Biogas was dedicated to “delivering realistic, sustainable solutions for businesses within the Australian waste and energy sector”. 

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