Lutra is a biogas business set up by Michael Chesshire, who has been in the AD industry since 1975. The previous companies he founded were Farmgas (pioneers of pre-fabricated sewage sludge digesters), Greenfinch (pioneers of food waste AD) and Evergreen Gas (pioneers of plug-flow digesters).
Lutra provides two consultancy services: design of plug-flow biogas plants, and biological & analytical support for major AD plants.
Lutra research is concentrated on the operation of 1500-litre pilot plants and the community food waste AD digester (known as BMAD). Current areas of research include the biomethanation of hydrogen and carbon dioxide (“power-to-gas”), biopropane, and biochar.
Michael Chesshire is a Cambridge engineering graduate. After a brief spell in the nuclear industry (including cold commissioning of Hinkley B), he set up his first AD business in 1975 in the wake of the Middle-East oil crises. Over the years his companies have built more than 100 biogas plants and have employed more than 200 people in South Shropshire. Furthermore, employees from these companies have gone on to start their own new biogas businesses within the industry – notably Marches Biogas.
Since 2008, he has been a visiting professor at the University of Southampton, teaching both at the university and at summer schools in Finland. More recently his association with the university has been on research projects.
He has been an active participant in trade associations, as a Director of the Renewable Energy Association (2009 to 2017), Director of Renewable Energy Assurance (2011 to date), and a Board Member of the European Biogas Association (2017 to date).
Plug-flow digester design has advantages over the traditional continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) design, and is particularly suited for on-farm AD.
Michael Chesshire pioneered the development in the UK of the below-ground plug-flow digester. Lutra offers a complete process design service, including: project feasibility, process calculations, piping & instrumentation diagrams, mechanical design, electrical design, process control and commissioning.
R&D and innovation have been key features of Michael Chesshire’s career in anaerobic digestion. Since 2001 much of his R&D work has been in partnership with Professor Charles Banks and Professor Sonia Heaven at the University of Southampton, notably in relation to the anaerobic digestion of food waste. The latest project is the development of biomethanation (“power-to-methane”), also working with the University of Sheffield and the University of York.
Barrett’s Mill, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 4AH
Please ignore your SatNav and use the map provided. Travelling South on the A49 towards Leominster, as you come over the railway bridge we are the next left, down a farm track. If you reach The Salwey Arms you've gone too far. Travelling North on the A49 towards Ludlow, as you pass The Salwey Arms, the road bears right handed as indicated by chevrons, just around that corner turn right down the farm track. If you cross the railway bridge you've gone too far and it is safest to turn around at the lay-by at Ashford Bowdler. Leaving Lutra - it is suggested for safety reasons that when leaving Lutra, regardless of your route, that you turn left and head South on the A49 initially. It is easy to subsequently turn around to head North and much safer due to the restricted view when pulling out of the junction.