Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Jerry D. Murphy


Ireland has significant quantities of livestock; meat exportation is a vibrant sector of the economy. Environmental management of animal wastes has therefore become an important concern. On the other hand in the last decade, national and EU policy debate has highlighted the need to investigate alternative energy: in particular energy for transport.

This study investigates the quantities of animal wastes produced in Ireland and their potential treatment using Anaerobic Digestion technologies. In 2005 Ireland had over 8 millions animals (cattle and pigs) and the annual slaughter accounted for over 4.2 million of these creatures. These animals have been responsible for the production of about 86 million tons of excreta per annum, whereas the abattoir industiy produced more than 750,000 tons of carcasses per annum.

These wastes can be employed as feedstock in Anaerobic Digestion processes and provide biogas which can be upgraded to methane and used as transport fuel. From 1 ton of cattle slurry it is possible to produce about 21 Nm^ of biogas whereas from 1 ton of pig slurry it is possible to produce about 24 Nnv of biogas. Carcasses have a higher energy potential with a specific biogas yield of about 168 Nm^ of biogas per ton of waste.

A Decision Support Software for assessment of biogas production from animal wastes has been produced. It contains:

1. A geographical database of livestock and abattoir throughout Ireland;

2. An Energy potential model to estimate the biogas production from a specific number of animals (input of the model);

3. An economic model to evaluate costs and incomes associated to Biogas plants; 4. A location model to identify valuable areas for biogas projects development.

With the highest number of livestock (1,319,874) matched with the highest number or slaughterhouses (5 IPPC licensed abattoir and 60 local abattoir), Cork County appears to be the area with most potential for biogas developments. Other counties which exhibit great potential include: Cavan, Tipperary, Galway and Mayo. These counties all have high livestock numbers and a significant presence of slaughterhouses.

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