Case study - Optimising biogas generation in the UK and Germany


Courtesy of Geotechnical Instruments (UK) Ltd

Methane makes money. It generates energy revenues, carbon credits and is part of bio-treatment sludge processing. In most of the world it has only just begun. Measuring what we are doing and being responsible with this potentially damaging greenhouse gas makes good sense.

With gas production for revenue, measurement is essential. While landfill gas analysis has been required for compliance with national authorities, biogas analysis has different drivers. It can help optimise digester or fermenter operation and maximise methane production. Biogas analysis assists process control, which in turn can help protect CHP or other engines from H2S and moisture damage. It can also ensure newly installed biogas plant is operating to design specification.

When methane is production, analysis is achieved either with handheld portable insturments or static, unmanned and automated equipment. The need for data may dictate the equipment specified.

For carbon credit trading, automatic data logging every 15 minutes and data transfer to a secure server with password-protected internet access is becoming the norm. That equipment can also monitor digester performance and alert operators if intervention is required. To run power-producing plant on methane, possibly from an array of sources, less frequent measurement may be needed an handheld, portable 'manned' equipment may be totally adequate. That means finding the project-dependant balance between the man-hour cost of using portable equipment and the capital outlay of automated equipment. In tightening markets, manpower, time and money matter.

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