Achievements

Technical Learning

The key achievement of the project is the successful demonstration of methane production from waste, at the design output of 50KW.

This endorses several key strategic technical approaches taken by the consortium:

  • The importance of producing a high-quality true ‘synthesis’ gas at the outset. By avoiding the problems of tar fouling and complex organic contaminants, conventional gas processing can be used to achieve the exceptionally low level of impurities required by the sensitive nickel catalysts used for methanation. Successful operation supports this strategic approach, as well as the gas processing and polishing techniques adopted in the project.
  • Simplified methanation processes. The use of biomass and waste feedstock means that facilities must operate at smaller scale than fossil based processes. Therefore, the complex gas recirculation approaches used in conventional methanation plants must be replaced with simpler, lower cost solutions. The project has demonstrated achievement of stable control of a simplified ‘once through’ process, particularly using steam injection.

 

Operational Learning

In translating a technical concept to commercial reality, process operability, safety and training of operators is vital. Safety is a top priority for all the project partners and rigorous assessment of the facility was carried out throughout the project and appropriate processes and controls for managing risks have been developed. This pilot scale facility has also provided a valuable learning and training platform for the larger scale commercial plant.

 

Environmental Learning

The primary motivation for the technology is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Detailed analysis from this project shows that BioSNG produces 80% lower carbon emissions than fossil gas. This is based on analysis using the Renewable Energy Directive methodology for a large scale commercial plant operating in the UK in 2020. Even higher savings can be achieved if the benefits of diverting waste from landfill are taken into account or if the captured carbon dioxide is beneficially utilised or stored.

 

Commercial Learning

A key part of the programme has been the development of a commercial scale plant design and economic assessment of BioSNG production. This has demonstrated that the technology can produce gas from waste at comparable cost to fossil gas, around £20/MWh. Therefore, the revenue support necessary to enable early commercial projects is a temporary requirement, unlike many other renewable or low carbon technologies.

 

Next Steps

The pilot project forms part of the roadmap towards commercial delivery of thermal biomethane. Because of this pilot project, the consortium partners have developed a commercial project which is under construction. This is a hundredfold scale-up from the pilot plant and will operate under fully commercial conditions. You can find out more about this project here.

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