Creating better biogas through greater gas monitoring
To create a greener and more sustainable energy future, it is essential to maximise the output of Britain’s renewable energy sources. For the country’s anaerobic digestion (AD) plants, this means making production more efficient which requires – among other things – accurate gas monitoring to ensure that greater volumes of high quality biogas can be injected into the National Grid.
To help AD plants achieve these goals, Geotech recently launched the BIOMETHANE 3000. Created in conjunction with leading biogas plant operators, the fixed inline gas analysis system has been specifically designed for gas to grid injection, ensuring greater accuracy and confidence in biomethane gas quality and analysis.
AD is not an exact science, which is why gas composition monitoring is a critical part of the production process. Throughout production, CO2 needs to be removed and propane added to ensure the calorific content meets what is required by the National Grid. To do this effectively, the breakdown and concentration of the gas produced needs to be checked regularly and in real time – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Vulcan Renewables (part of Future Biogas) based near Doncaster, for example makes biogas using a three-stage system; the AD plant is fed with maize, ryegrass and sometimes sugar beet, the biomass is broken down by natural bacteria and different outcomes of biogas are produced.
Before the biogas gets to the chromatograph for checking, the company needs to know what its CH4, C02 and H2S levels are, so they can react and take action if necessary to guarantee the quality of what they are sending to the Grid.
Larry Devine, Lead Operator at Future Biogas said: “We’ve been using the BIOMETHANE 3000 for 10 months now to monitor the production and quality of our gas. The analyser detects a broad spectrum of gases, which gives us a more accurate picture of the biogas we create. We need to measure high levels of methane at over 95% very accurately and this is the only system in the market that is optimised for biomethane production. By using this analysis alongside the historical information, we can compare outputs and fine tune the process – for example by finding what ratios of biomass reduce the CO2 content, as this will help us to speed up the process and make it financially more efficient.”
The BIOMETHANE 3000 uses a market-leading approach to monitoring methane and oxygen ranges to provide Geotech customers with accurate readings at first stage analysis, around the 98% methane level and below the 1% oxygen level. One major benefit of the BIOMETHANE 3000 is its ability to record historical data by using remote monitoring, allowing trends to be mapped.
Larry added: “The analyser tells us if there’s a problem a lot earlier due to its more advanced technology. This means there is far more opportunity for us to put it right before any chance of downtime. We simply look at the breakdown, analyse it and we can see instantly if we need to change the make-up. Overall the BIOMETHANE 3000 supports us in producing better biogas, so less is sent back when it gets to the chromatograph.”
By using effective gas monitoring throughout the production process, AD plants like Vulcan Renewables can improve the quality of the biogas they produce thereby reducing the cost of flaring off poor quality gas and making sure more high-quality gas reaches the National Grid.
If the UK is to meet its target to generate 15% of the nation’s energy from renewable energy sources by 2020, these small investments could undoubtedly make all the difference.
The Biomethane 3000 is already turning heads in the industry and has been nominated as a finalist for the coveted ADBA awards to be held in July. The product will also be showcased at several upcoming events including the ADBA event – the largest international trade show dedicated solely to the AD and biogas industry to be held in July.