Producing Energy with Biogas
The global warming effect and the world-wide discussion on reducing the CO² emission lead to an increasing interest in biogas for energy production.
The difficulty of biogas production is the correct measurement of the actually produced energy due to the continuously changing composition of the biogas.
Endress+Hauser have developed an application package which helps to measure the energy more accurately. In addition, the biogas application package allows to monitor the efficiency of biogas production.
Depending on the origin, i.e. where biogas is produced, we can distinguish between:
- Sewage gas (waste water)
- Landfill gas (waste disposal sites)
- Biogas (plant fester)
- Fermentation gas (animals, lakes, … )
All of these gases have in common that they undergo a fermenting process of organic substances utilizing bacteria thus producing usable energy.
The advantages of biogas are that:
- The production is CO2 neutral.
- The raw material for energy production can be stored.
- Unlike sun and wind energy it is available at all times.
The above facts explain the great interest which is shown in this form of energy carrier. All over the world companies begin to invest in biogas applications. EON Ruhrgas, for example, is going to build 25 biogas plants in Germany within the next 3 years. Vattenfall Europe is going to invest more than 1 billion Euros in biogas plants over the next 5 years and LMS in Australia is going to build 50 plants using landfill gases.
The use of energy produced by biomass has changed over the past few years. Traditionally, biogas was used in thermal power stations or private electricity production, but power suppliers plan the following for the future:
- Connecting the produced electrical power into the public electricity networks.
- Feeding biogas in to supplement natural gas supply.
- Using biogas as the fuel for gas driven vehicles.
What all operators have in common is that the requirements on measuring technology have increased. On the one hand, operators have the natural interest to supervise the economical use and efficiency of their investment. And on the other hand, local authorities offer subsidies if the legal limit values are adhered to.
Calculating the energy produced and the efficiency is complicated since they strongly depend on the composition of the biogas, which in turn depends on the composition of the product to be fermented. As this composition is not stable the formation of the biogas can change within a few hours.
As a result, the methane content of biogas sways between 45 and 70%.
This is very decisive because the methane content directly corresponds to the energy content or calorific value of the biogas and is therefore the actually usable part of the gas. Up to now a fixed methane content of, e.g. 60% was used for the energy calculation leading, of course, to a high uncertainty in the result of the energy calculation. In newer biogas plants, gas analyzers are used to ascertain the actual methane content within the gas.
Endress+Hauser have developed a solution for such installations with which the energy produced can be determined easily and reliably. The heart of this solution is the Application Manager RMM621 or the Data Manager Memograph M containing tailored formulae for the energy calculation of biogas applications. The calculation delivers an energy value which far exceeds the expected precision of 95% for a complete installation. Thereby, a reliable statement about the efficiency of the plant is possible. The reason for the higher accuracy is that the measured methane contents are used to calculate not only the calorific value for the biogas but also the process and later the reference density.
The biogas package is completed with the necessary sensors for flow, pressure and temperature. Using a DP flow sensor is recommended for the application, but Vortex or Thermal are also possible if the conditions of the produced biogas allow it. An additional advantage is that all parts of the package are aligned to each other, leading to a minimized total system error.
The Endress+Hauser biogas package for the energy calculation of biogas applications
As a result the energy produced or the efficiency of the plant is delivered, dependent on requirement of the operator. Furthermore the user obtains values such as standard volume or medium density, which can be used to control the plant and the biogas production. In addition to the energy calculation, functions such as filter supervision, data storage or tele-alarm are available. So the package offers the possibility to run the biogas plant as an autarkic island, placed far away from other facilities but still being integrated into other systems.
The biogas solutions package was already introduced with an exhibition model at the Interkama 2008 and IFAT 2008 where it attracted a great deal of attention. With the combination of approved products and detailed experience in energy calculations, Endress+Hauser can offer a high quality and reliable solution in a booming sector leaving nothing to be desired.