Biochemical Methane Potential (BMP): Optimising Anaerobic Digestion Performance for Better Renewable Energy Solution

By Dr. Mikael Khan, Dr. David Tompkins and Matt Smyth

Recent energy price shocks are the most severe since the oil crisis of the 1970s. The World Bank estimates that crude oil prices increased by an astonishing 350 percent between April 2020 and April 2022. Energy prices are further forecast to rise by an average of 50 percent this year. This is forcing industries now, more than ever, to find more efficient and cost-effective ways of managing their operations while keeping to their net zero carbon commitments.

On the flip-side, businesses generating renewable energy in the form of biogas find themselves in a commanding market position and are exploring all opportunities to maximise gas generation. These opportunities almost all start with a base understanding of the energy potential of feedstock materials drawn from biochemical methane potential (BMP) testing.

Activated Sludge Foam - BMP

This potentially puts anaerobic digestion (AD) operators in an enviable position – but balancing throughput and biogas production requires careful planning to maximise energy revenue whilst minimising or eliminating fugitive methane emissions from unstable digestates at the end of the process. Classical BMP tests deliver gas evolution profiles over time under controlled laboratory conditions, providing a useful and cost-effective indication of possible performance at scale. These data can inform everything from gate fee contracts to digester feeding rates and digestate storage or processing strategies.

At present, only a handful of AD sites have in-house capability to use this vital tool. The Aqua Enviro laboratory recently upgraded its testing facilities to deliver this valuable service, providing clients with more detailed insights into their feedstocks than ever – whether derived from wastewater treatment (such as primary, secondary and hydrolysed sludges) or waste management (such as food wastes from households, manufacturers and other businesses).

Combined with Aqua Enviro’s comprehensive and bespoke consultancy services, the simple and robust BMP test helps companies to achieve optimum biogas production, balancing feedstock mixes and digester loading strategies. It can also be used to explore the biomethane potential in treated materials – informing methane mitigation strategies that are as important for health and safety as they are for delivering net zero obligations and permit compliance.

To know more about the Aqua Enviro laboratory’s BMP offerings and renewable energy solutions, visit or email

Posted 29th September 2022
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