Photo of Lemvig Biogas, copyright Lemvig Biogas

New technology ready for testing at biogas plants

Tuesday 05 May 20


Irini Angelidaki
DTU Environment
+45 45 25 14 29


Jørgen Kamp
+45 51 50 75 30


The current work is part of the BioUpgade project. The project is funded by The development of the biological method was part of the Varga project in collaboration with Envidan, BIOFOS, and ARC, funded by MUDP, the Environ-mental Technology Development and Demonstration Program. The results will also be used in the eFuel project, which will further develop and market the technology in collaboration with the partners Nature Energy, Biogas Clean, University of Southern Denmark and Erhvervshus Fyn.

A new biological method using bacteria to increase the proportion of methane in biogas is now ready to be tested at Lemvig Biogas.

Over the past five years, Professor Irini Angelidaki and her team of researchers have been working to develop a biological technology that uses bacteria to increase methane levels in biogas. An increased methane content is interesting because it enables the biogas to help solve some of the current challenges of providing climate-friendly fuels for heavy traffic that cannot immediately be electrified, such as trucks, ships, and tractors. It is also possible to store methane and use it when needed. This can either be done in the form of gas in the existing natural gas grid or converted into other liquid fuels such as methanol.

Biogas bacteria get the job done
The new biological method was developed in the laboratory, but has over the last year been tested in a pilot plant consisting of a nearly 2-metre-high reactor. The method is in principle quite simple and takes place under normal pressure and temperature conditions, making it easy to implement in practice.

“Inside the tall reactor, we’ve collected the biogas bacteria that will do the job for us. They live in a porous material like the one you know from a kitchen sponge or foam rubber,” says Irini Angelidaki, DTU Environment.

The biogas is added at the bottom and bubbles up through the reactor. Due to the structure of the material, the process is slow enough to allow the bacteria to ‘eat’ hydrogen and CO2 from the biogas, thus increasing the concentration of methane drained from the top of the reactor. Moisture from biogas is simultaneously added at the top of the reactor, to ensure that the bacteria are constantly surrounded by sustenance.

“By allowing the biogas to move up through the reactor’s bacteria, we can increase its share of methane from the current approx. 60% to as much as 95%. This is interesting because it increases the range of applications of the biogas significantly,” says Irini Angelidaki.

Biogas plant wants to upgrade
The pilot plant has so far been installed at BIOFOS Renseanlæg Avedøre, a water treatment plant. Here, the researchers ultimately managed to get the biogas to bubble up through the reactor in such a short time that it became realistic to apply the solution in practice.

The next step will be to move the pilot reactor to Lemvig Biogas where it will be connected to one of the biogas plant lines to test that the solution also works with real biogas.

“The biogas industry has long been working to upgrade biogas to biomethane. If the organic waste that biogas plants process can be converted into fuel for the transport sector, it has the potential to become an important element in ensuring a fossil-free society. We therefore look forward to testing the pilot reactor with our biogas,” says Jørgen Kamp, Senior Researcher at Lemvig Biogas.

Both Irini Angelidaki and Lemvig Biogas expect the new biological method to work smoothly when connected to a real biogas plant, making it an interesting solution for both existing and new biogas plants. 

Pilotanlæggets reaktor, tilhører DTU

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31 MAY 2020