Friday, April 24, 2015

ENER-G Biogas CHP Technology Will Raise Small Commercial Anaerobic Digestion Plant Profitability

We are delighted to have been sent, (and publish) the following press release, which we believe is very good news for existing AD Plant owners, and also those considering jumping into the AD Renewable energy business.

If you are not quite sure what a CHP Unit is, let me just tell you that it stands for Combined Heat and Power Unit. If that still means nothing let me tell you that you are not alone! The renewable energy sector badly needs to come up some new ways of describing what CHP is!


Putting the jargon to one side. This CHP Unit takes the heat which, without it, would go into one of those cooling systems you see on the top of biogas power containers, you know those ISO Containers which contain those gas engines (electrical power generators) which hum away all day and night. It converts that heat in a heat exchanger, into hot water.

The hot water produced is the piped to a place where it can be used. That can be anything from heating the domestic radiators in homes, to providing hot water for an industrial process in a factory. 

With a CHP Unit, farmers can heat their own greenhouses, and barns, seeing an immediate reduction in their fuel bills, or export the hot water through pipes to neighbours. So, if the CHP Unit investment cost is low enough, the profitability of biogas plants will be improved wherever they are installed. This new CHP technology appears to fit all the technical requirements, so its uptake will depend on the price to buy these CHP Units.

PRESS RELEASE: 24 April 2015

New ENER-G biogas CHP technology warms up cash returns on small scale anaerobic digestion

ENER-G has turned up the heat on the anaerobic digestion market by launching a new sub 200kwth CHP unit that maximises financial returns on both the highest rate Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and Feed in Tariffs (FIT).
This will help to stem the shortfall from FIT digression following the 20% reduction in FIT rates last year and ongoing tariff reductions. ENER-G says that its new biogas CHP technology makes small scale anaerobic digestion viable for a wider customer base, particularly smaller farms and dairies, as well as industrial processors.
The new ENER-G E200 biogas CHP unit provides a thermal output of 195kWth (qualifying for the highest rate RHI  of 7.5p per kWth), together with an electrical output of 205kWe - at a total efficiency rating of 77.1%.
"Our UK design team have packed a mighty heat punch of 40.7% efficiency into the new E200, without compromising on high electrical efficiency of 37.6%," said ENER-G's Laurence Stephenson. "The heat efficiency for a unit of this size is unmatched in the market, which is critical in boosting RHI returns to bridge the shortfall from dwindling FIT rates.
"It will accelerate the pay back on investment - making anaerobic digestion feasible for smaller farms and other sites. This could provide a valuable lifeline for dairies, which are under huge financial pressure from falling milk prices."
ENER-G's UK R&D team has achieved the high thermal output by using a high efficiency turbo-charged MAN engine and then reducing the cooling level of exhaust gases to achieve a sub 200kWth heat output that falls below the threshold for highest rate RHI.
The  higher rate of RHI payment, available only to sub 200 kWth sites, provides  customers with an extra 1.6p per kWth compared to the next tariff band for sub 600kWth sites. This provides a guaranteed income over 20 years that increases with inflation.
FiTs are payable on electricity generated from a CHP unit of this size at the highest current rate of 10.13p per kWh..
At current rates, a typical farm or dairy operating the E200 on a 24-hour cycle at 92% availability would receive annual payments of £167,361 for FITs and £117,866 for RHI - amounting to a total guaranteed 20-year income of up to  £5.7 million. This would be around £455,340 more than the lifetime income from the lower band RHI tariff.
Government grants of up to £10,000 are available to UK farmers to undertake anaerobic digestion feasibility studies.
Laurence Stephenson added: "Many pre-accredited anaerobic digestion projects are stalling because of finance issues, particularly due to FIT digression. But with guaranteed higher rate returns from RHI, a typical small scale anaerobic digestion project should offer a payback within four years, providing a guaranteed profit stream thereafter. ENER-G's maintenance package guarantees a minimum 92% availability of power and heat production - providing added certainty in negotiating finance".
The ENER-G CHP system can be supplied in a container on a 'plug and play' basis - simplifying and speeding up the commissioning process, which must take place within 12 months of pre-accreditation approval.
For the past 30 years ENER-G has been European market leader in small scale CHP (4kWe to over 10MWe). The company has developed  over 170MW of  biogas power generation from AD, landfill, and associated gases. ENER-G provides a complete package - from design and manufacture of CHP systems - to installation, commissioning and finance - through to maintenance and service via its national engineering team. It also supplies pre-treatment technology required to clean and dry biogas from digestion processes, such as effluent and AD.
Further information is availabe at: www.energ.co.uk/chp

We would love to hear about your experiences with biogas plant CHP generally, and specifically for this and any other Anaerobic Digester Sites, of which you are aware. Just add a comment, and we will publish your non-spammy comments.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Clever Re-use of Pre-cast Concrete in World War II Hangar for AD Plant Feed Storage

Whites Concrete has recently provided an innovative storage solution for the "Northern Crop Driers" Anaerobic Digestion Plant, and we think that the way in which this new use has been found for a historic World War II aircraft hangar, will interest many people.

Based south east of York at the former RAF Melbourne, Northern Crop Driers has successfully utilised pre-cast panels from Whites Concrete to maximise silage storage for its AD plant. 
Leading manufacturers of dried grass horse feeds that are virtually identical to fresh grass, Northern Crop Driers needed a clamp capable of storing 6,000 tonnes of silage in an old hangar at its Melrose Farm base. With a roof height limiting the maneuverability of machinery to compress the stored material, 
Whites Concrete were called upon to create a design that would use the space to full effect, keeping silage dry and clean whilst ensuring that load demands would meet the bulk density. The safely stored maize, grass silage (plus some sugar beet), and slurry from sister company Melrose Pigs, provides feedstock for the 500kW AD plant. 
Pam Dear from the family-owned and run business said: “Investing in an AD plant made perfect sense here because it brings everything together.
With our pigs and grass drying business, we knew we could generate our own green electricity, but first we had to bring in a whole year’s worth of crop, so getting our storage facility right was crucial”. 
Whites Concrete worked closely with Northern Crop Driers to initially provide two designs, including one with metalwork, but 4m concrete panels were ultimately chosen as the best solution. Pam Dear added: “We were determined to utilise every inch of the hangar to give us 6,000 tonnes of storage, so Whites’ expertise in materials and load-bearing requirements was invaluable”. 
Over a period of one month, 150No 4m high (1m wide) Whites Concrete panels were installed at the 750-acre Melrose Farm, where grass, home grown maize and supplies from neighbouring farms combine with the pig slurry to produce enough power for everything required on site, with excess sold on to the grid. L-shape Groundwall panels from Whites Concrete were considered the most suitable option so as not to create any additional load bearing onto the existing structure of the old hangar. 
Ideal as push-walls to resist machinery loads, extreme heights of storage and areas where heavy traffic will be working, Groundwall is hygienic, as well as far quicker and more economical than block or in-situ concrete. 
Pam Dear continued:
 “Despite being a higher cost, the pre-cast concrete panels from Whites Concrete are actually much cheaper to install. We produce high quality horse feed from 100% natural, home grown grass, which takes up a good chunk of power to dry out, so in the not too distant future we also hope to harness the heat from our AD plant for that part of our business. Going into AD production has given us more stability. It is helping both of our businesses grow and shows that we are serious about sustainability”. 

The high quality of the digestate at Melrose Farm is also proving a winner, with its valuable nutrients producing healthier grasses. It has helped make a big reduction on bought-in fertiliser. Following the success of the silage clamp, 
Northern Crop Driers has since extended the storage facility by an additional 4,000 tonnes, installing a further 90 No 3m high pre-cast concrete panels from Whites Concrete to create 10,000 tonnes of silage space for the AD plant. 
These extra panels are from Whites Concrete’s Rockwall range, which achieves a finished concrete strength in excess of 60N for any above or below ground construction.
 “Moving into AD is a very good fit with our business model”, concluded Pam Dear.
“We produce 100% natural horse feeds and bedding, and now we generate our own on-site green power, with a payback of just five to six years”. 
Historical Note:  RAF Melbourne was a Royal Air Force station during the Second World War. In the late 1940s the airfield was used by Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys of 10-Squadron as a relief landing ground for RAF Leeming near Northallerton, just south of Darlington. The squadron continued with operation until March 1945. 
 It lost 109 aircraft. Unusually, Melbourne was equipped with FIDO (Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation). This made the RAF station a popular diversion airfield for other squadrons returning from operations to Yorkshire. The [smoke making] device consisted of two pipelines situated along both sides of the runway, through which fuel was pumped, and then out through burner jets positioned at intervals.
Although very large volumes of fuel were consumed, FIDO more than made up for the costs involved by reducing aircraft losses
This very much follows the ethos of Anaerobic Digestion. Re-use of existing facilities certainly avoids carbon emissions, and in this case the solution chosen also avoids changing the historic structure, by any more than is essential. Well done, Northern Crop Driers, and Whites Concrete!

Tel: 01924 464 283
k whites[@]longley.uk.com
Ravensthorpe Road, Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, WF12 9EF

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Confronting the Fear of a Biogas Digester Turning Sour

Nobody talks about what happens when a biogas digester turns sour. It's costly, can mean turning away clients, and the extra hydrogen sulphide produced can be very dangerous...

We must start confronting the fear of a Biogas Digester Turning Sour!


As more and more biogas plants are built, many organisations and plant operators will be tasked with the responsibility for reliable operation of these intricate pieces of equipment. There is a danger that unless the biogas industry airs its past errors in public, the anaerobic digestion industry will be set back by lack of understanding of the nature of the problems that can occur if biogas plants are not continually monitored and well run.

It is perfectly natural for a young industry, such as this to want to move forward and not talk about past mistakes, but on the other hand it is only by understanding the past that repeating past errors can be avoided.

For that reason, in this article we will discuss that most unpleasant outcome of poor or inexperienced biogas plant operation, which is known as a digester turning sour.

What is actually meant by this term, is when a biogas reactor is allowed to diverge sufficiently from its target pH, and intended alkalinity concentration for the methanogens (methanogenic organisms) to be killed (in effect poisoned), and other unwanted organisms to thrive. Significant quantities of dangerous hydrogen sulphide are likely to be produced in such circumstances.

To describe this as a "fearful event", is not an overstatement. The consequences in terms of lost production from a biogas plant in these circumstances are substantial. In fact it is quite possible that plant managers and/ or operators will have faced disciplinary action due to such events.

Those that sell these plants naturally like to provide the impression that these plants run themselves.  While they may appear to do so when run by experienced operators, behind the scenes there is always activity. Biogas plants should never be considered to be "black boxes" in which waste enters and methane leaves like clockwork. It simply cannot be like that!

These are complex biochemical reactors. Those that study biochemistry and microbiology will appreciate that there are at least three stages taking place, each of which has to progress successfully before biogas is produced. Phase changes are needed from solids to liquid to gas, and the right healthy micro-organisms need to be present at every stage.

The equipment can fail in a multitude of ways. Sensors can lose calibration, but still appear to be working. Pumps can, at times appear to be running but are in fact delivering no flow.

A delicate balance needs to be maintained and while it is, all goes well. However, feed materials are always changing both in their nature, and seasonally. This means that regular monitoring of digester health is always absolutely essential, and beyond that so is a proactive plant operator needed, to ensure that manual and automatic adjustments are carried out, hour by hour, day by day, year in, year out.

Wise biogas plant designers/contractors install automatic equipment and train operating and maintenance staff, to maintain that delicate balance, as a matter of routine.

But, it is vital that management and staff at every biogas facility remain vigilant, because should a digester fail and turn sour it is a lengthy procedure to bring it back to health. The worst case scenario is that the whole digester tank has to be dug out, and the whole biological commissioning process started again. The consequences of this in terms of cost, the ability to comply with contractual duties, and lost goodwill, are massive. Not to mention the dangers of the likely odour escape, the health and safety of personnel, and the risk of polluting the local environment while disposing of the contents of a "sour" reactor, which hardly need stressing.

Short of that, in most cases when it happens, it is caught in time to implement procedures to bring the reactor back to a healthy condition, while retaining the substrate in-situ. This is a slow process and may take 4 weeks or more to achieve even the recommencement of substrate feeding feed, even at a low fow rate.

Subsequently, over some weeks, the feed flow rate must be progressively increased. This must be done rapidly enough to encourage the growth of a healthy compliment of fermentation micro-organisms, but never so rapidly as to cause organic overload. Organic overload could push the reactor back into the chemical conditions which caused the problem originally, so care is needed throughout.

Once the bulk of the methanogenic organisms are lost, for example, they must be replaced. The methanogens are slow growing and have to be teased back into health, over a long period when no treatment can take place. In short, the microbiologcal system has to be allowed its own time, to recover itself, and that process cannot be rushed.

In view of the large loss of revenue and inevitable disruption which would be caused to the waste producers if their waste could not be removed by the biogas plant operator, the avoidable event of a sour digester needs to be continually borne in-mind by all those involved in the industry.

Monitoring and control systems are improving all the time in reliability and sophistication, so with time the threat is becoming easier to manage. However, the AD industry must never forget the consequences of a sour digester.

It is only when organisations in this industry continuously confront the fear of a sour digester, which should be instilled in the culture of all biogas companies, that it can be avoided. That mildly felt apprehension, needs to be ever-present throughout the company from the managing director, at all levels down to the pump fitter.

Some "fear" should especially be felt by the accountant/ maintenance budget holders who might otherwise require that essential maintenance be deferred to improve company cash-flow, just for a few months, but with dire consequences.

Paradoxically, it can be the best run biogas companies which fall hardest. It is perfectly possible for a site team to make biogas plant operation look to higher-management to be simple, and by achieving reliable plant operation for many years, to result in a loss of understanding of the duties of the plant operational staff. This is easy to creep-up on an organisation over time, and after many staff changes.

A gradual erosion of respect for the work of the site operational staff, can easily lead to corner-cutting. This can reduce monitoring and maintenance, while the site staff suffer in silence, mending and managing on reduced man-hours, and pared-back budgets. Eventually, if not corrected, this can result in a crisis, and a large plant failure.

Yes. Even the very best run companies can fall prey to this...

So, our conclusion is that the "black box" concept of a biogas plant, must always be held in-check by a willingness not to brush this age-old problem of biogas plant operation "under the carpet". You can never switch-on a biogas plant and walk away!

Instead, all in the anaerobic digestion industry must in their own ways, continuously remain open to the fear of biogas plant micro-organism failure (a "sour" digester), when operating conditions stray a long way away from healthy conditions for the unseen microbial populations, which are essential for plant operation.

Achieve that, and the problem doesn't actually recur - and the biogas industry will thrive.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

US Rendering Plant Gets State-of-the-Art GasMix Biogas Mixing Technology


(Image: Courtesy Landia)

Landia’s GasMix state of the art biogas digester mixing technology has just been successfully installed at North State Rendering in Oroville, California for the best possible biogas yield. To achieve that, very thorough mixing of the bio-reactor is essential.

Only by achieving heterogenous mixing can the micro-organisms that produce biogas methane get at all the food they can extract from the substrate, and the GasMix system (which we have described previously here) is particularly ingenious in the way it achieves that.

The rendering industry is seldom publicized.  What it does is not exactly glamorous and little usually happens in the industry to promote more general interest.  However, at North State Rendering they now have something which is making them a star of the U.S. biogas industry.

(Image: Courtesy Landia)


Biogas Energy is the company that has been contracted to build an anaerobic digestion facility for North State Energy, where Landia's gas mixing equipment is helping to pay peak dividends.

They are now achieving uninterrupted biogas production, generating electricity 24/7, fuelling the rendering company's trucks, and creating heat to run their boilers. Plus, they have estimated that they will be able to reduce by 75% their diesel costs, by introducing a gas-cleaning skid to create a natural gas grid-ready quality biomethane, that is then compressed to become their own source of CNG fuel.

Rendering waste is a high energy producing substrate, so their bio-reactor produces a lot of energy. This means so that the economic benefit of this new plant is seriously cutting their business costs.

Not only that, at times when they do not need all the power to plant produces, they can further process and sell the spare energy, and the plant also provides a form of wastewater treatment ready for its discharge and use.

This has to be a notable first for the industry in North America!

(Image: Courtesy Landia)

Brian Gannon of Biogas Energy said recently that:

"For a rendering plant, biogas is a natural fit”.

“North State Rendering were looking for ways to cut costs, secure new waste supply contracts, and improve wastewater treatment, so creating their own on-site biogas facility was a wise move.  Fuel and energy are a significant operational cost for the business, so investing in technology that eliminates electricity bills, slashes diesel costs and reduces natural gas imports all makes sense.  Modifying the anaerobic digestion process to integrate with a rendering plant took some fine tuning, including a very positive modification to the digester’s mixing system, but now, we see how we got it right”.

Renderers commonly find that food waste from kitchens, grease trap waste, plus restaurant and food processing waste, can be expensive to render, and yet it is ideal for anaerobic digestion.  The biogas plant allows them to divert such wastes from their existing and new waste disposal contracts, freeing up rendering capacity for rendering more suitable materials.

By configuring their waste reception facility flexibly they now divert their existing incoming materials to the most efficient type of process, either to the rendering plant or to the biogas plant.

The digester processes materials such as, food and yard waste and high-liquid content grease trap materials.  Wastewater produced by the rendering process is also sent to the biogas plant, as is also any dead livestock tissue, after suitable preparation. This is particularly useful during hot weather, when rendering may become difficult due to the rapid degradation of this material.

Brian Gannon also said:

“We had been using submersible propeller mixers inside our main digester, but with our re-design of the tank, we switched to a new system that meets all of our needs.  One of the main issues with submersible digester mixing systems is that the equipment is inside the tank, which from a maintenance point of view is a nightmare.  The downtime caused by having to open the digester to lift the mixers out for repairs and maintenance caused serious process interruptions and safety issues."

“We now have a Landia digester mixing system, which is mounted externally, so maintenance is much easier.  Even during commissioning when the AD biology was at a delicate stage, we were able to carry out some tweaks without any interruption whatsoever to the biogas production process.  With submersible mixers we would have had to start over again, which would have been very expensive and used up a ton of manpower”.

Ease of maintenance is not the only benefit from the Landia GasMix system, Brian also explains that the Landia (patent-pending) system is able to agitate and mix into the entirety of the digester tank (even one as big as this - at 64 feet high!), whereas competing systems frequently fail to prevent a hard-pan (or "crust") from forming on the surface of the tank’s contents.

Brian also said that:

“The anaerobic digestion facility is designed to process a very wide range of feedstock”, he said, “so its pumps and mixers have to cope. The Landia chopper pumps, which form part of the GasMix system, are absolute troopers. They just keep on working.  We wouldn’t be achieving what we are now without them”.

The GasMix system installed comprises, two 30-HP chopper pumps and a self-aspirating system. That, coupled to a clever sequencing control system ensures that the action of the meathnogenic micro-organisms is much more effective in reducing the volatile organic solids content to produce more methane, and does it in a much reduced time period.

Landia’s GasMix which is uniquely designed specifically for AD and biogas reactors, is simple to operate, and has a low energy requirement, because it only needs to run for up to 30% of the installed capacity of the equipment, in normal use.

Brian Gannon concluded:

“Renderers have a big head-start over other companies trying to develop new waste-to-energy facilities.  Unlike newcomers, renderers already have the necessary permits in place to process waste material.  They also have the trucks to collect waste, and the energy consumption that biogas facilities can help fuel."

“As energy and fuel prices climb and wastewater discharge fees escalate, waste processors can turn waste into an asset.  For Biogas Energy, our experience at North State Rendering and the introduction of Landia’s GasMix digester mixing system means that we can help our clients generate renewable energy with a system that maximizes production while facilitating operations and maintenance”.

For more information contact:
Landia: www.landiainc.com
T: +1 (919) 466 0603
Biogas Energy: www.biogas-energy.com
T: +1 (815) 301 3432

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Renewable Natural GasTo Be a Major Contributor to Improved Sustainability of Transport

Natural gas offers huge opportunities for reducing the use of petroleum in transportation. One highly sustainable source of natural gas is biomethane, and that, by definition, is made from organic (usually waste) materials. 

The method by which biomethane is made is to first create biogas, using the anaerobic digestion process, and then remove the unwanted impurities (such as carbon dioxide), and the small trace amounts of compounds which would not be found in natural gas extracted from fossil fuel sources.

That is done in a process known to the energy industry as “biogas upgrading” and there have been important innovations in the technology for doing this in recent years. Not least in the development of efficient membranes for this purpose.

The Scale of this Opportunity

The potential impact that replacing gasoline (petrol) vehicles with natural gas (CNG) fuelled vehicles, can be appreciated when one considers medium and heavy-duty fleets. These have a significant potential for natural gas use, and they currently consume more than a third of the petroleum used for transportation in the U.S.

Natural gas is an excellent fuel for a wide range of heavy-duty transport vehicle applications, especially transit buses, refuse haulers, and Class 8 long-haul or delivery trucks. In addition, natural gas can be a very good choice at the moment for light-duty vehicle fleets which have the ability to use central refuelling. In other words, work out of a base, and can fill the tanks when then come home each night).

The Extent of US Government Support

The US Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) has been supporting the development of natural gas engines and research into renewable natural gas production, for some time now. In fact, VTO has supported the development of natural gas engines for heavy-duty vehicles since 1992. We can go further than that to force this point home, as well, because nearly all heavy-duty natural gas engines on sale in the U.S. today can trace their origins to the US DOE's support for research and if not through research, through partnerships between the VTO and industry.

Work to Increase the Sustainability of Natural Gas Use

Natural gas is known to be the cleanest burning and lowest carbon dioxide producing of the major fuels in use today. New methods of natural gas extraction such as fracking are increasing its availability, but not its sustainability. To increase the sustainability of natural gas, the US VTO has also been supporting research into the production of renewable natural gas.

The Role of Anaerobic Digestion

Renewable natural gas is a purified version of biomethane that results from the anaerobic digestion process which occurs without any encouragement in the decomposition of landfills, and is the product produced by wastewater treatment plants where the sludge is digested in in a “biogas digester” (or biogas plant), and also at livestock facilities where a biogas plant is in use.


A Surprisingly Level of Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions!

The US VTO has provided the following amazing quotation about the use of renewable natural gas:

“When it [renewable natural gas] is used in vehicles in place of diesel, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 88 percent or more.” www.energy.gov/eere/vehicles/vehicle-technologies-office-natural-gas-research

We think that this is a quite astonishing improvement! We are surprised that this fact isn't being sung from the rooftops by all those in the biogas industry...

Reducing vehicle emissions is also vital for human health, as many thousands of people die annually in our big cities, who otherwise would live on, due to vehicle fume particulate pollution. It also does this without the parasitic drag on performance produced by the pollution prevention devices which have to be fitted to petrol and diesel vehicles. Most people who read the above statistic will say that it is crazy not to use much more natural gas in place of petroleum and diesel, especially when the US has so much natural gas available now, and for the foreseeable future.

So, What is Being Done to Raise Natural Gas Use for Vehicle Transport?

The US VTO explains, on their website that through collaborating with industry and national laboratories, the VTO has done a great deal already. It has demonstrated the feasibility of purifying biomethane from landfills.

The Big US Push to Utilize Landfill Gas Sourced Biogas as Transport Fuel

As a result of this project the government identified more than 300 landfills which are currently producing biomethane. Furthermore, on average it was found that they could each produce up to 20,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas per day. The EPA is now assisting the waste management industry in promoting the installation of as many landfill gas extraction and biomethane production facilities, which have biomethane upgrading plant installed on landfills throughout the US, as possible.

Huge US Development Program for 11,000 NewAgricultural Biogas Plants

Since then, further research has identified more than 8,000 livestock units that could also support renewable natural gas production within economically viable anaerobic digestion plants. Although a number of agricultural/ dairy industry businesses were already installing their own biogas to biomethane production facilities, many more will soon be implementing this sustainable energy producing technology in accordance with the USDA “Roadmap for Renewable Energy” which aims for the creation of 11,000 new agricultural waste fed biogas plant installations by 2020.

Summary 

The result is that landfills and livestock facilities are using anaerobic digestion technology to produce fuel and to power renewable natural gas vehicle fleets, led by the refuse haulers, and milk haulers, but now also being followed by the first transit bus fleet operators.

Conclusion

Having read this article we hope that our readers now appreciate the huge advantages of renewable natural gas as a transport fuel. It is number one for sustainability, but is followed by the substantial benefits of using natural gas from carbonaceous sources as a bigger part of the nation’s transport fuel consumption.

This is especially true when compared with diesel fuel use, and the real public health damage being caused currently by urban air pollution from vehicle exhausts.

Finally, we do suggest to our readers that they go and visit  the link above to the US government's article in which it states that "renewable natural gas reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 88% or more".

Can it really be true? An 88% reduction! If it is, why isn't it a fact on everyone's lips? Surely, everyone that calls themselves "green" should be shouting about this from the rooftops! Your comments are appreciated.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Great Year for Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas in the U.S.

2014 will probably be seen in years to come as a turning point in the development of the anaerobic digestion and biogas energy industry in the U.S.: The year when their industry came of age and finally began to take-off in terms of business.

Last year the USDA, with the EPA and DOE at their side, published a Biogas Opportunities Roadmap report. It described the steps that these three Federal Agencies will take to increase the uptake of the anaerobic digestion with the development of many more biogas plants in the United States, on a scale hardly even imagined previously.

Will 2014 be seen as the year when this "banana power" prediction finally
became accepted in the mind of US businesses?
Their "Roadmap" outlines the ways in which those that want to promote waste fed anaerobic digestion projects will be able to overcome the current regulatory restrictions which have been holding back the development of a healthy (energy from waste) biogas industry in the U.S.

There is no doubt that this will end up creating new jobs, and injecting cash into the nations economy. At the same time these agencies recognise, that an important part of the Roadmap is in its aims to educate the public on the benefits which will flow from biogas development. Within these benefits is of course the ability of these biogas plants to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions, and in this and in other ways lead to improvement in the nation's environmental quality.

Within the Roadmap there are more than 10,000 farms where it is estimated one of these new alternative energy producing waste processing plants should be built in just a few short years, so the young biogas industry will have plenty to be doing. This news has been welcomed by the American Biogas Association, which is the main industry trade body.

For years, third world ranchers have been using methane from manure to run electrical generators down on the farm. This low pollutant emitting biogas is not only a good local fuel in countries with little or no infrastructure, now even countries like the U.S. will be reaping energy from what is otherwise a very smelly resource.

About 80 percent of the estimated only 160 biogas energy projects in the U.S. are currently installed on dairy farms, which then combust the gas to generate electricity. The combined installed capacity of all dairy farm projects is now nearly 60 MW, and should now rise rapidly.

Until now the value of biogas was not properly understood. Because of that there has been an absence of training and regulation standards. Biogas industry data is under-developed and it has been difficult to secure finance, but in 2015 that should all start to change.

In huge tanks, bacteria will turn waste into methane gas, which is burned in turbines or engines that generate electric power. Each large biogas plant can generate as much as a wind turbine, but this energy is far more valauble as it is generated continuously and is not weather dependent. After methanization, the "digestate" produced is further composted and turned into fertilizer that is used by farms in the region.

Looking back at the last 12 months we wanted to share another biogas development which was one of our favorite moments.

In a recent issue of Biomass Magazine, it was explained that there has been staggering growth in the use of cellulosis renewable information number (RIN) market. To you and me this means that existing alternative energy plants are making much more of it, from compressed natural gas (CNG) to liquified natural gas (LNG). In fact, this renewable energy output surged from 3.5 million in August 2014 to 7.5 million in September 2014, presumably due to new plants coming on-stream.

Also, in 2014, municipalities and others who have long been looking for ways to make the best possible use of landfill gas (LFG) created by anaerobic processes at their landfills, will have been further encouraged to go ahead with landfill gas collection schemes. In 2015 and beyond, many more of these should now be equipped with biogas upgrading equipment, and be used to fuel waste collection fleets, or simply sell the compressed biomethane as CNG.

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Another feature in 2014, has been the number of bodies such as universities and computer data-centre operators that have "gone green", and are generating their own electricity from organic waste. Many have installed their own biogas plants, and a number of those are using fuel cells. These fuel cells convert biogas to electricity through an electrochemical process that also reduces nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter emissions, usually by more than 70%.

The California Energy Commission was also in the news and is promoting the production of biomethane through regulatory measures. So, California is also keen to see increased uptake of biogas and is seeking ways to capitalize on the emerging high energy feedstocks available in the state. These include wastewater, municipal solid waste and industrial food waste. 2014 has seen them exploring how to encourage  utility businesses to install biogas plants, and get the potential consumers of this new alternative energy to use it. This has produced much needed publicity on the market prospects for biomethane, not least in the natural gas powered vehicle market.

In the 1985 blockbuster “Back to the Future” there was a scene when a banana peel was needed to fuel a Delorean.

Not much happened to bring such a prediction into reality in the US until around 2012 when several major project developments were successfully brought on-stream, across the United States. The first food waste digesters were also coming online at that time, and since then they have shown their worth.

Move on to 2014, and finally all the "technology talk" of previous years seems to be being brought forward to real action on the ground. Throughout 2014, federal, state, and local market involvements have been propelling developments forward in anaerobic digestion and biogas plant implementation.

We hope you enjoyed this article, and wish all our readers a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! Don't forget that we do have a comments section below this blog! Did we get our opinion of US events in 2014 right? Your feedback is important to us.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Why Better Digestate Enhancement and Treatment is What the Biogas Industry Needs

Digestate Enhancement is Important!

The operating capacity of biogas plants in the UK is rising faster all the time. The technology has recently also been extended from the original use on farms with energy crops, into new areas. Two of these rapidly expanding Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Plant sectors, in the UK, are in sewage sludge treatment, and food waste disposal.

Both of these applications for AD makes real sense due to the energy that this releases which can be used in turn to power the wastewater treatment works at which the AD facility is located, and similar uses also exist at facilities accepting food waste

In our opinion this goes further because of the use of biogas digesters for the treatment of sewage sludge with the ability to pay for the AD Plant, at least in part, from the sale of the biogas or electricity generated from it. This is now becoming the accepted practise in the UK, and we are certain that the same applies in a number of other nations.

However, using biogas digesters for organic wastes from sources such as food waste has much less of a proven performance history. In fact, only in 2011, there were concerns that completely food waste fed anaerobic digestion plants might not be feasible in the long term due to process instability problems.

This anticipated obstacle has been eliminated by the results of published studies carried out by the University of Southampton, however, this example just goes to show how very recently the scientific community was still talking about whether this kind of biogas digester would work dependably, or go sour! Fast foward to today, we still are no more than 2 to 3 years after that event, and many large food waste biogas plants have actually now already been commissioned! In addition it is likely that in less than 5 years there will be legislation in the UK which will legally require that food waste be separately collected by all councils, and anaerobically digested.

The end-result of this rapid take-up of a new technological application, has in-truth been that there has actually been hardly any time for much study work to be  done on digestate disposal and/ or sales/ product improvements, when compared to other aspects of biogas manufacturing.

It is an inescapable fact that 90 to 95 % of the original feed product which goes into a biogas digester re-appears as digestate from the digester as digestate, and if the digester is running properly the mass decrease is merely the mass of the biogas created. the techniques by which any AD Plant handles digestate is therefore of big relevance to plant operation and to the financial practicality of each plant.

With the undeniable increased popularity of waste digestion, the need to enhance the available strategies for managing digestate, as a helpful resource, and not just as a waste for disposal, is pressing.

The next breakthrough the Anaerobic Digestion industry badly now needs is certainly in improving the optimization of digestate by inventing better techniques, and treatment, with the aim being to open-up this product to new, much bigger, and more rewarding markets.

Barriers encountered in the UK to finding better ways to enhance and treat digestate were identified in a recent study for WRAP. Read more abut those barriers to digestate enhancement here.