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MAY/JUNE 2016 Volume 7 • Issue 3

From trash to treasures

A new waste-to-energy plant being built in the UK utilises cutting-edge technology

The forgotten element Ways to use AD heat wisely

Regional focus: bioenergy in the UK



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contents Bioenergy

Issue 3 • Volume 7 May/June 2016 Woodcote Media Limited Marshall House 124 Middleton Road, Morden, Surrey SM4 6RW, UK MANAGING DIRECTOR Peter Patterson Tel: +44 (0)208 648 7082 EDITOR Liz Gyekye Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4183 DEPUTY EDITOR Ilari Kauppila Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4146 INTERNATIONAL SALES MANAGER George Doyle Tel: +44 (0) 203 551 5752 NORTH AMERICA SALES REPRESENTATIVE Matt Weidner +1 610 486 6525 PRODUCTION Alison Balmer Tel: +44 (0)1673 876143 SUBSCRIPTION RATES £160/$270/€225 for 6 issues per year. Contact: Lisa Lee Tel: +44 (0)20 8687 4160 Fax: +44 (0)20 8687 4130 Follow us on Twitter: @BioenergyInfo Join the discussion on the Bioenergy Insight LinkedIn page

No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in any form by any mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording or other means without the prior written consent of the publisher. Whilst the information and articles in Bioenergy Insight are published in good faith and every effort is made to check accuracy, readers should verify facts and statements direct with official sources before acting on them as the publisher can accept no responsibility in this respect. Any opinions expressed in this magazine should not be construed as those of the publisher.

Contents 2


4 News 22 Green page 24 Plant update 27 Building a world-class AD industry

While currently facing issues that potentially threaten its entire existence, the UK AD industry has the potential to lead worldwide biogas production

28 Regional focus: UK legislation 30 The Big Question

Does bioenergy need subsidies to survive?

34 Challenges of building AD plants

Building an AD plant is no easy business, and being aware of the involved issues will help operators-to-be to avoid common potholes

36 The forgotten element

AD plant operators often forget that their processes also produce heat, which can be used to make the whole operation more efficient

40 Gas holder of choice

The use of membrane structures for roofs, biogas containment and permanent structures in the wastewater industry is becoming increasingly common

46 Rethinking cleaning

The trend of power plants changing to biomass can increase issues with fouling, which are now being tackled by a new technology

48 Biomass boiler upgrades to boost power generation 50 Obtaining environmental compliance with existing assets 55 From trash to treasures

A new waste-to-energy plant being built in the UK utilises cutting-edge technology to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient

57 Powering ahead: Biogas technology development 60 Unlocking wood waste potential 64 Feedstock focus: paper and pulp

Stora Enso gives its view on a bio-based future

MAY/JUNE 2016 Volume 7 • Issue 3

67 Delivering a message

In the social media era, communication is rearing its head as a new obstacle for the bioenergy industry to tackle From trash to treasures

68 Future-proofing biomass plants

A new waste-to-energy plant being built in the UK utilises cutting-edge technology

The forgotten element Ways to use AD heat wisely

Regional focus: bioenergy in the UK

ISSN 2046-2476 FC_Bioenergy_May-June_2016.indd 1

Bioenergy Insight

10/05/2016 17:28

May/June 2016 • 1

Bioenergy comment

Power generator


Liz Gyekye Editor

s those that have been the victim of some of our more severe weather events will verify, life in modern “developed” society is almost unbearable without electricity. Many of the things that we take for granted suddenly become unavailable, and life as we know it becomes almost impossible to live. Our communications, our heating, and for some even our ability to cook become no longer possible. The impact is tremendous and life disrupting — especially in this digital age that we live in. It would not be long before civil unrest would emerge and the head of some government politician would roll. Yet here in the UK, we actually skate on thin ice. The country faces the risk of power supply shortages over the next few winters as fossil fuel plants close due to weak economic conditions and plans to bring forward new generating capacity fail to materialise. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said the UK faces “a legacy of years of underinvestment” which has left the country “open to the risk of any quickening in the pace of plant closures”. To address it, new capacity is needed, largely expected to be gas as coal plants come off the system by 2025, to guarantee future energy security.

So what role can waste play? The simple fact is that waste is a fuel and a source of energy — a large proportion of which is renewable. Despite that, as a nation, we have largely ignored it. Anaerobic digestion has an important role to play in this mix. It can reduce methane emissions from agriculture and landfills and could produce up to 1% of the energy delivered to UK consumers by 2020. A range of financial incentives for biogas production are now in place. Yet, the government has cut back these subsidies. Regulations can be complex, notably for injection of biomethane into the gas grid. Other barriers to the development of AD include a lack of guaranteed material supply and difficulties in accessing finance. The use of digestate as a fertiliser may be limited by a lack of market acceptance. In this issue, Bioenergy Insight looks at the anaerobic digestion market in the UK — focusing on the industry’s opportunities and its challenges. Energy from waste has an important part to play in keeping the lights on.

Best wishes, Liz

Follow us on Twitter: @BioenergyInfo

2 • May/June 2016

Bioenergy Insight

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May/June 2016 • 3

biomass news

xxxxxx Bioenergy

Drax under fire from protesters over subsidies for coal and wood power

Energy giant Drax has faced protests during its annual general meeting in London over its use of public subsidies to support its coal and wood-burning power station. Protesters came to the Drax power station site near Selby, North Yorkshire on 20 April, 2016. They also campaigned outside the company’s AGM in London on the same date, with banners stating ‘axe Drax’. Speaking from the AGM protest in London, Biofuelwatch campaigner Duncan Law said: “The Department of Energy and Climate Change is calling biomass burning in power stations like Drax a ‘transition technology’, and a closer look at Drax’s strongly suggests that the power station’s lifespan is indeed limited. “But the impacts of the logging in the US, which is feeding Drax today, will be long-lasting, if not permanent. Precious wetland forests, once they have been cut down, may never recover. Plant and animal species at home in these forests are being driven closer to the brink of extinction.” Eliza Rea-Miotto, spokeswoman from People and Planet Sheffield, said: “When it is so clear that true renewables are the key to an environmentally sustainable

4 • May/June 2016

future, it is heartbreaking to see mass environmental destruction carried out in the name of ‘renewable energy’. “Today we stand together to demand an end to huge government subsidy of Drax’s biomass burning, and to demand a cleaner future of energy generation.” Moving away from coal A Drax spokesperson told Bioenergy Insight: “Using the latest technology Drax has transformed itself from being a coal-fired power station into Europe’s largest decarbonisation project. “The support we receive from Government has helped us upgrade half the power station to generate electricity using sustainable pellets made from low grade wood — thinnings and residues that might otherwise be left unused. “We never cause deforestation or forest decline. We only take wood from working forests that grow back and stay as forests. We never source from areas that are officially protected

Protesters outside Drax’s power station in Yorkshire

or where our activities would harm endangered species. “The sustainable pellets we use reduce many air pollutants and cut carbon emissions by more than 80% compared to coal. As a result Drax is now playing a very significant role in producing renewable energy and is a key player in helping the UK hit it’s clean energy targets.” ‘Three remaining coal units’ Speaking at the company’s AGM meeting, Drax chairman, Philip Cox, said: “ An increase in the use of sustainably-sourced biomass is the fastest, safest and most affordable means by which the UK can move away from coal and support more wind and solar generating capacity in the future.

“With the right policy frameworks we could become 100% renewable through the full conversion of our three remaining coal units and we could do this well before 2025. We will continue to work closely with the government to help them reduce the UK’s reliance on coal.” Drax, the biggest single power station in Britain at 4 gigawatts, providing 8% of the country’s electricity, used to burn 10m tonnes of coal a year but it was reduced to 6m last year as the facility was switched to a mixture of coal and wood. Drax has said it would like to move to 100% wood burning within three years but it will require further financial aid from ministers to do so, with talks about this strategy currently under way. l

Bioenergy Insight

biomass news

Government support to aid global biomass growth, new study finds The global biomass power market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 6.5% until 2022 due to government support, according to a new report by Transparency Market Research. The market research agency published a study entitled Biomass power generation: 2014-2022. According to the report, the biomass

power generation market will increase from a valuation of $28.68 billion (€24.73 billion) to $50.52 billion by 2022. In terms of power generation, the market is expected to rise to 738,350.3 million KWh in 2022 from 72,571.9MW in 2013, exhibiting a 6.8% CAGR over the period. In terms of installed capacity, the market is expected to exhibit a 6.2% CAGR and rise to 122,331.6MW by 2022 from 72,571.9MW in 2013. In a statement, Transparency Market Research said: “Regulatory framework and government support in terms of government grants and

The big question

funding programmes that provide investment subsidies and tax benefits play a key role in encouraging power generating companies and utilities to switch to environment-friendly biomass for power generation.” The company said that countries like Germany provide a range of incentives to encourage the use of biomass as a source of energy. It added: “Some countries including India, Indonesia, Australia and Poland are proposing legislation to boost investments in biomass power generation.” l

Does the bioenergy industry need subsidies to survive? Yes/No. (see more on pages 30-31)

Charlotte Morton , CEO of ADBA

Matt Hale, international sales manager at HRS Heat Exchangers

Kari T. Kankaanpää, sustainability manager at Climate and Environmental Affairs at Fortum

George Pawson, operations manager, at KRR Prostream

YES. Support for renewable

MAYBE. Long term our

NO. Subsidies for mature

MAYBE. Renewable Heat

energy recognises the huge unpaid damage that fossil fuel sources are causing to our planet and our health ­— and helps to develop and scale technologies like anaerobic digestion which are already cleaner and greener, and will ultimately be cheaper too with short to medium term subsidy support.

Bioenergy Insight

industry cannot rely on subsidies to survive. Shortto-medium term subsidies are required to bridge gaps caused by an immature market. Plant operators will be economically-viable without subsidies, sooner rather than later, if they make sure their plants are running efficiently. For example, if they reuse waste heat to reduce inputs

bioenergy technologies should be removed. The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) should steer investments in bioenergy and fuel choice in existing plants. As long as subsidies exist, they should be technologyneutral and harmonised. However, subsidies for bioenergy innovations and R&D activities, in particular on the commercialisation of new bioenergy technologies, are needed also in the future.

Incentives work to an extent but are wrongly targeted. The domestic rate rewards people with badly insulated houses, which defeats the objective of the scheme. The commercial rate rewards the better off — 90% of my work has been with country estates.

May/June 2016 • 5

biomass news

Covanta confirms shutdown of biomass plants

Nicaragua-based firm launches bagasse biomass plant

Covanta, a US waste management firm, has announced that the company’s biomass assets have been idled and this has negatively impacted on its first quarter revenue results for its energy division.

Ingenio Montelimar, a Nicaragua-based renewable energy firm, officially launched a 38MW biomass plant in San Rafael del Sur city, according to media reports.

In a statement, Covanta said: “Energy revenue from non-energy-from-waste (EfW) operations decreased by $13 million (€11m), primarily driven by an $11 million decrease in biomass revenue as a result of economically dispatching facilities and lower market pricing.” The economic dispatch of these facilities is a result of warm weather conditions in the northeast of the US, combined with an abundance of low-cost natural gas. There is no word yet from the company as to the future for these facilities. In January, Covanta announced that it was closing both of its bioenergy plants in central Maine. A few weeks ago, government officials recently approved a $13 million bailout of the bioenergy industry in the state, allowing the state to buy bioenergy at above market value in order to support the struggling industry. l

The facility is named ‘Green Power’. It will use bagasse as raw material. Bagasse is the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract their juice. The $76 million (€66.4m) plant will be able to meet 5% of the country’s electricity demand. The minister of Mines and Energy, Salvador Mansell, quoted by media channel El Nuevo Diario, said during the inauguration that with this plant, Nicaragua now has an installed capacity of 1,329MW. In a press statement, the company said: “It’s the most efficient investment in biomass (the country) to date, by the use of technology and processes friendly to the environment.” Earlier this month, the Nicaraguan government announced it will invest more than $10 million in renewable energy projects this year, as it aims to tackle climage change. l

Philippines beefs up biomass production The Philippines is pushing ahead with its biomass production and now has a total of 18 biomass plants, according to an ex-government official. According to local news website,, the Philippines has the ability to use enough biomass power plants to provide energy to more than 300,000 homes.

According to the news channel, former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said: “Fired mainly by bagasse and rice husk, 16 of the biomass energy producers are already dispatching power to the grid, while a couple are under project commissioning and ready to supply the grid.” The 241MW installed capacity does not include another 166MW from biomass power generators installed by private firms for their own consumption of electricity, not for grid use, according to the former senator.

“What is great about biomass fuel from energy stored in agricultural waste is that it is always available, adds value to farm crops, and is carbon neutral,” said Zubiri. He said biomass power producers are providing growers additional income from bagasse, the sugarcane fiber waste left after juice extraction, and rice husk, the shell separated from rice grains during the milling process. Zubiri said: “Anything that reduces our dependence on foreign oil for electricity is always most welcome.” l

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Bioenergy Insight

biomass news

Nova Scotia ends ‘must-run’ regulation for biomass plant The Nova Scotia government is ending a legal requirement to operate a biomass plant based in Port Hawkesbury as a must-run facility. In a statement, the Nova Scotia government said it introduced the new rules due to concerns expressed from the local community about the “use of primary forest biomass for electricity”. Under the terms of these new regulations, the number of new trees being cut down in the Canadian province will reduce. The government also

said that it amended the regulation “to allow for more flexibility in managing the electricity system”. The biomass plant, operated by electricity firm Nova Scotia Power, launched in 2013. According to Nova Scotia Power, the plant uses as much as 2,000 tonnes of biomass per day, producing up to 4% of the province’s overall electricity. It has a 60MW capacity and the ability to power 50,000 homes. Environmental groups have criticised the company’s use of feedstock for the plant, claiming that it is not “clean energy”. As a consequence of the new rules, the Nova Scotia biomass plant will

no longer run 24 hours, seven days a week. The regulation enforcing a ‘must-run’ requirement was established in 2013. A must-run electricity generation plant must produce as much electricity as it can, all the time. According to the Nova Scotia government, the biomass facility helped the province meet its 2015 legislated target of generating at least 25% of its electricity from renewable sources. Commenting about changes to the old rules, Nova Scotia’s Energy Minister, Michel Samson said: “These regulations placed unnecessary constraints on optimum electricity system

planning and management. “Today, more flexibility is possible, and needed, to produce electricity as economically possible.” The regulation change allows Nova Scotia Power to include renewable electricity generated from approved community feed-in tariff (COMFIT), according to the government. The government said: “While biomass can be useful and reliable, it has also proven, with current energy prices, to be one of the more expensive energy sources. “Moving forward, Nova Scotia Power must continue to meet renewable targets, but will have greater flexibility in doing so.” l

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Bioenergy Insight

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May/June 2016 • 7

biomass news

Tequila Cazadores cuts carbon footprint with biomass boiler Tequila Cazadores has cut its carbon footprint by installing a biomass boiler at its distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, which uses agave waste from the drinks-making process. The Mexico-based spirits producer uses the agave waste and transforms it into biofuels. The company also creates compost from the ashes created from its new boiler. About 60% of the biofuel used to produce Tequila Cazadores, known for using only blue agave, comes from spent agave fibres, which equates to about 11,000 tonnes a year. The other 40% is made up of about 8,000 tonnes of carbonneutral, renewable fuel sources such as clean waste wood, biomass briquettes, sawdust, coconut shell, and tree cuttings. Together, the organic materials fill the giant biomass boiler where they are transformed into the fuel needed to generate the steam power required for the agave sugar extraction

process, cooking and distillation of the brand’s tequila. As part of the Bacardi portfolio of premium spirits brands, the company said that Tequila Cazadores is doing its part to advance the group’s corporate responsibility to be “good spirited”.

Bacardi-owned Tequila Cazadores gives up fossil fuels and distills tequila under its own greenenergy steam in Mexico

GHG emissions The distillery, established in 1973, adeptly reduced greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by more than 80% when it swapped out the two fossilfuel dependent boilers that used 2,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil each year for the new, clean-burning biomass boiler. This GHG reduction is equivalent to 6,500 tonnes of CO2. The new boiler also reduced noise pollution by about 20% compared to the old boilers, according to brand owner Bacardi. “Global climate changes have the potential to affect Bacardi and the production of our brands. Understanding these realities, we are continuing our focus to minimise environmental impacts company-wide,” said Eduardo

Vallado, vice president of supply chain and manufacturing for Bacardi in the Americas. He added: “Our Good Spirited initiative is part of our legacy, vital to our growth and sustainability, and this biomass boiler changeover in Mexico, one of many to come, represents our steadfast commitment to our customers and consumers to make the best quality spirits in the most responsible ways.” The boiler conversion took 18 months to plan, ten months to execute and has been in operation for more than one year. The Jalisco facility’s biomass boiler is the largest among all of the Bacardi facilities worldwide.


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Since 2006, when Bacardi began tracking its global impact on the environment, it has improved water use efficiency by 46% and reduced GHG intensity ratio by 46%. Building on current programmes and efficiencies that reduce its environmental impacts, the Bacardi Limited “Good Spirited” sustainability programme sets specific goals in three areas to help the company reach its vision of a net zero impact: • Responsible Sourcing: Bacardi strives to obtain all raw materials and packaging from sustainably sourced, renewable or recycled materials while maintaining or enhancing the economic status of growers and suppliers. By 2017, the goal is to obtain 40% of the sugarcane-derived products used to make its rum from certified, sustainable sources—and 100% by 2022. • Global Packaging: Bacardi commits to use eco-design to craft sustainability into its brand packaging and pointof-sale materials. By 2017, Bacardi plans to reduce the weight of its packaging by 10% and achieve 15% by 2022. • Operational Efficiencies: Bacardi continues to focus on reducing water use and GHG emissions with a 2017 goal to cut water use by 55% and GHG emissions by 50%. In addition, Bacardi aims to eliminate landfill waste at all of its production sites by 2022. l

Bioenergy Insight

biogas news Biomethane used in transport ‘will’ help the UK to become green

The British biomethane industry was the fastest growing in the world in 2015

The UK has the potential to increase its production of biomethane in the future and improve resource efficiency, according to a report published by the Renewable Energy Association (REA). In the report, the trade body said that the UK could produce the equivalent of more than 45 liquified natural gas (LNG) by tankers’ worth of biomethane, or 40TWh, per year by 2035. By the end of 2016 the country’s biomethane industry will produce the equivalent of four LNG tankers worth of green gas yearly, the REA said. Biomethane is chemically identical to methane, also known as natural gas. Biomethane is an upgraded form of biogas, which is produced through the anaerobic digestion of food and other biowastes. If the industry growth to 2035 lives up to expectations, biomethane production could result in the UK being able to reduce its LNG imports by over 25% from 2014 levels, the REA said. It recommends a mandatory collection of food waste as “a pragmatic, cost-effective policy” to back biomethane expansion. The British biomethane industry was the fastest growing in the world in 2015, according to the report. By the end of last year, 50 projects were completed and another 15 are expected to be finished this year. l

UK residents back green gas, survey finds More than three quarters of UK residents view biomethane in a positive light, a new study has found. The representative survey, conducted by market survey analysts Usurv on behalf of the UK’s Renewable Energy

Association (REA), found that 84% of people in the UK would like to switch to using green gas in their homes. Dr Kiara Zennaro, head of REA Biogas, said: “We feel that 2016 and the following years are going to be a real breakthrough year for biomethane, taking its place as the UK’s leading renewable heat technology.”

“As well as making a real contribution to climate change and the circular economy, green gas also means that our central heating systems and our nationwide gas grid have a future in a renewable energy world. We’ve also seen major companies like Waitrose starting to use biomethane for transport, helping to decarbonise heavy goods vehicles. l


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Bioenergy Insight

May/June 2016 • 9

biogas news

Air Liquide boosts development of biogas purification units French industrial gas group Air Liquide has announced the commissioning of 12 biogas purification units in the last 12 months in Europe. With these new units, Air Liquide triples its biogas

purification capacity on the European continent. Overall, Air Liquide has designed and deployed 50 biogas purification units worldwide in order to transform biogas into biomethane and inject it into the natural gas networks. The 12 new biogas purification units commissioned by Air Liquide

are located in France, the UK, Hungary and Denmark. Five of these units, representing a total investment of €12m, are operated by Air Liquide. Air Liquide generates long-term contracts for the production of biomethane for Europe’s natural gas grids, which supply notably the transportation fleets that run on bio-NGV

(Natural Gas for Vehicles). François Darchis, seniorvice president, member of the Air Liquide group’s Executive Committee supervising Innovation, said: “These new biomethane production contracts illustrate the ability of Air Liquide to leverage its technologies to incubate new businesses. l

PWS plans large-scale landfill gas conversion plant in Canada Canadian waste management company Progressive Waste Solutions (PWS) is planning to construct a biogas plant at the Ridge Landfill in Ontario.

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The planned facility will convert landfill gas into pipeline-quality natural gas at approximately the same scale as PWS’ standing biogas plant at the Lachenaie Landfill in Montreal. The Lachenaie plant is the largest biogas plant of its kind in Canada, processing 10,000cbft of incoming landfill gas per minute, generating enough biogas to fuel 1,500 homes for 20 years, the company says. The 800-acre Ridge Landfill site, which currently has approval for 350 acres to be used for waste disposal, is expected to reach its current approved capacity by 2022. Peter Shillington, former mayor of Ontariobased Blenheim, said the community was working on a deal at the time with former landfill owner BFI to install a generator to produce electricity from the landfill gas. “The town was going to be a 50/50 partner with BFI,” he told Chatham Daily News. l

Bioenergy Insight

biogas news

Sainsbury’s goes green by turning food waste into energy Ten per cent of Sainsbury’s annual national gas consumption is being provided by a partnership processing its own food waste, the UK supermarket giant said. Sainsbury’s has linked up with UK-based food waste recycler ReFood to turn inedible food waste from two of its depots into gas, heat and fertiliser through anaerobic digestion (AD). Nearly 50 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of biomethane gas have been produced through the partnership, according to ReFood, and in the last year enough gas has been created to continuously power 5,000 homes for 12 months, which the supermarket says equates to 10% of its national gas consumption for the year. As part of the partnership, food waste is collected from Sainsbury’s’ two depots in Sherburn-in-Elmet and Haydock, Merseyside, before being converted into gas, heat and fertiliser at ReFood’s state-ofthe-art AD processing facilities. The green gas is then exported to the national gas grid by ReFood and, through a third party, is imported by Sainsbury’s stores nationwide — being used to generate carbon-neutral electricity for power and heating. According to Sainsbury’s, the agreement is one of the largest of its kind in the UK, seeing ReFood supplying both green gas and supporting certification. As a result of the partnership, ten stores have already significantly increased their use of renewable energy, while lowering utility bills. The partnership also helps to

Bioenergy Insight

deliver Sainsbury’s commitment to send zero operational waste to landfill, by finding a use for inedible waste products. All surplus edible food is donated to local charity partners. ‘Key corporate priority’ Commenting on the project, Paul Densham, utilities buyer at Sainsbury’s, said: “Increasing the sustainability of our UK stores is a key corporate priority and we’re making great progress in our drive to reduce food waste across the business. Working in partnership with ReFood allows us to effectively recycle our food waste while creating green gas. “What’s more, it sits well alongside our wider sustainability goals, such as working with food redistribution charities and prioritising sustainable transport strategies. The project has helped us to become a market leader in sustainability and waste reduction, ensuring that we send zero waste to landfill — a promise we’ve been able to make for some years now.” Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, added: “Using our national network of processing plants, we’ve provided a truly sustainable solution for stores across the UK. “Generating a significant volume of green gas in result, the partnership has enabled Sainsbury’s to use less fossil fuels, minimise utility bills and eliminate unnecessary food waste disposal. What’s more, with a highly effective sustainable biofertiliser also generated via the AD process, stores nationwide are working together to effectively close the food supply chain — from farm to fork and back again.” l

UK-based retail giant Sainsbury’s is generating energy from food waste

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May/June 2016 • 11

2016-02-15 15:1

biogas news

Clearfleau commissions first European AD plant using cheese by-products Clearfleau, a UKbased provider of on-site treatment solutions for the food and beverage sector, is commissioning an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in rural Cumbria. By feeding biomethane into the gas grid, the facility will produce over £3 million (appr. €3.8m) per annum in cost savings and revenue, while supplying up to 25% of First Milk’s Aspatria creamery’s energy requirements. The plant has been designed and built for Lake District Biogas, which will operate the site for 20 years, taking feedstock from the creamery site.

Clearfleau’s completed AD plant at Lake District Biogas This comprises low-strength wash waters such as process rinses, supplemented by whey permeate — a cheese production residue after protein extraction for use in energy supplements — which is pumped to the AD plant from the creamery.

Gordon Archer, chairman of Lake District Biogas, said: “Completion of this £10 million project on time, given the weather conditions in Cumbria this winter, has been a major achievement for the project team and Clearfleau.” “This is the largest AD

plant on a dairy processing site in Europe dedicated to handling the residual materials from the cheese making process and we look forward to working with Clearfleau on future projects,” he continued. When the plant is operating at full capacity — scheduled for later this spring — it will treat 1,650m3/day of process effluent and whey and generate around 5MW of thermal energy. It will produce 1000m3 of biogas per hour, of which over 80% will be upgraded for injection into the national grid. At least 60% of the biomethane will be used in the creamery for steam generation, with the balance being used by local businesses and households in Aspatria. l

US cogeneration system turns waste to watts US-based water company Clean Water Services, Energy Trust of Oregon and the Oregon Department of Energy officially announced the implementation of a new cogeneration system that converts wastewater and grease into renewable energy.

The innovative system, which is part of Clean Water Services Durham Treatment Facility, is the third cogeneration system in Oregon to codigest fats, oils and grease (FOG). Since 1993, Durham has operated a 500kW cogeneration system using biogas from the communities’ wastewater to offset its own energy usage. By replacing this smaller engine

12 • May/June 2016

with two new Jenbacher 848kW engines, Durham now has a 1.7MW cogeneration system fuelled by biogas produced from the anaerobic digestion (AD) of municipal wastewater solids as well as FOG from Washington County restaurants, commercial food processors and others. Average gallons of FOG codigested per week will start at 70,000 gallons and is expected to increase to 100,000 gallons within the next six months. Prior to being fed to the engine, the biogas will need to be treated with a gas treatment system made by biogas equipment maker Unison Solutions that will remove hydrogen sulfide particulates, siloxane and moisture from the raw biogas. “Clean Water Services Durham took the steps very deliberately and smartly to design a system that works

Oregon installs a new cogeneration system that converts wastewater and grease into renewable energy for increasing the production of biogas to help maximise generation at the plant,” said Dave Moldal, senior renewable project manager with the Energy Trust of Oregon. Modal added that like other plants, CWS didn’t have complete information or full confidence that there was sufficient FOG available in

the marketplace, but they proved there is sufficient FOG available not only for this facility, but for many others in Oregon. “They’re really pioneers in proving that bumping biogas through codigestion, in this case primarily with FOG, can yield tremendous economic and energy benefits,” he said. l

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May/June 2016 • 13

wood pellet news Wärtsilä delivers largest biogas plant in the Nordics Finnish energy solutions provider Wärtsilä has been awarded an order to supply the largest biogas liquefaction plant in the Nordic Countries to produce fuel for public transport vehicles. The supply contract was signed in December 2015,

and is with Swedish biogas specialist Purac Puregas. The Wärtsilä plant will be installed at the paper mill in Skogn, Norway, and will convert the cleaned biogas from fishery waste and residual paper mill slurry into liquid fuel. Øystein Ihler, development director of climate and energy programme for the City of Oslo, called the plant a “game-changer” for the biogas fuel market.

“The plant at Skogn will be privately operated and, with a capacity of 25 tonnes of liquid biogas per day, will be the biggest in the Nordic countries,” Ihler said. Methane-based gas streams The system has been specially designed to liquefy small methane-based gas streams. This novel technology is based on readily available, well proven components, but

The Wärtsilä plant will be installed at the paper mill in Skogn, Norway and will convert the cleaned biogas from fishery waste and residual paper mill slurry into liquid fuel

features an advanced process design and control system. The environmental benefits of delivering renewable liquid biogas fuel are enhanced by the fact that sulphur oxide (SOx) and particle emissions are virtually eliminated, while any released CO2 has zero environmental impact since it is part of the existing circulatory CO2. “The system offers low operating costs and is energy efficient. Furthermore, the environmental footprint will be minimal,” said Timo Koponen, VP at Wärtsilä Marine Solutions. “By enabling profitable projects for smaller gas streams, we are aiding the EU’s target of having 10% renewable fuel by the year 2020,” he continued. Having the biogas as cryogenic liquid rather than as compressed gas makes it a viable fuel for heavy vehicles, since sufficient energy can be stored on-board. Wärtsilä is delivering the system on a fasttrack basis and the on-site installation is scheduled to be completed within a 15-month timeframe. l

North Carolina-based Blue Sphere acquires Italian biogas plant Blue Sphere Corp., a North Carolina-based independent power producer that develops, owns and manages energy-to-waste (EfW) facilities globally, announced it has signed an exclusive term sheet to acquire a 1 MW waste-to-energy biogas plant from Agrilandia Societa Agricola in Tortona, Italy. As proposed in the term sheet, US firm Blue Sphere shall acquire a 100% interest in the plant, the land where the plant is built (approximately 2 hectares) and the feedstock inventory.

14 • May/June 2016

The proposed acquisition also includes all operating agreements including the remainder of the power purchase agreement (PPA) that is in place with Gestore del Servizi Energetici, (GSE). GSE is a state owned company that promotes and supports renewable energy sources in Italy, under a power purchase agreement. The plant’s PPA runs through to 31 December, 2027. The proposed purchase price contemplated for the transaction is approximately $4.8 million (€4.26m) at the current euro to dollar conversion rates or approximately 4.5 times EBITDA. The purchase price will be paid in a combination of cash at closing and the assumption of bank debt from the sellers. l

Bioenergy Insight

wood pellet news

Industry expert blames warm winters for slow wood pellet market Unseasonably warm weather is affecting global demand for wood pellets, according to an industry expert. Speaking at the Argus Biomass 2016 conference held in London, Joao Rocha Paris, CEO of Portugal-based wood pellet firm Enerpar, said Europe was the main consumer of wood pellets in the world. However, he said due to three consecutive warm winters “we are facing a dramatic situation right now in terms of consumption”. Wood pellets are a type of biomass fuel. They are used as a low-carbon alternative to coal to fuel boilers to produce heat. Warmer winters can reduce the need for bio-based heating, both for industrial use and domestic use. Paris said 2015 was a “bad” year for the wood pellet market, “2016 is turning out to be worse” and “2017 will be very bad”. Paris said he expected the market to pick up by 2018. Separately, Paris said that the low oil price was making bioenergy a less attractive option and contributing to weak demand for wood pellets. With oil prices lingering near their lowest levels in five years, greener, cleaner alternative fuels, including biofuels, are taking a hit. Political leadership Elsewhere, panel members at the Argus conference were in consensus that two main energy firms are the two biggest consumers of wood pellets — UK-based Drax and Denmark-headquarted Dong Energy. Drax operates the UK’s largest power station, at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies about 8% of the country’s electricity. It has already converted two of its six generating units to burn biomass in place of coal. The plant runs on wood pellets, mainly imported from North America. Speaking about Drax’s dominance of the market, Vaughn Bassett, senior vice president sales and logistics of Pinnacle Renewable Energy, said the UK government should be supporting more bioenergy start-ups to make the playing field more level and competitive. He said the UK government needed to show more leadership and reinstate subsidies for renewable energy plants. Portuguese market Separately, speaking about the Portuguese market, Paris said favourable exchange rates for the Russian and Polish markets were putting pressure on Portuguese wood pellet producers. He also said that pellets produced in the Baltics, Poland and Russia which were traditionally sold to Sweden and Germany were now being sold to the UK — a traditional market for Portuguese pellets. l

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wood pellet news

Valmet to supply wood pellet heating plant to Finnish power facility Finnish technology firm Valmet will supply a wood pellet heating plant to electricity firm Helen’s Salmisaari power plant. The wood pellet plant will enable Helen to increase the use of biofuels in district heat production in Helsinki. The new plant helps the city of Helsinki to meet its aim of increasing its production of renewable energy. The start-up of the heating plant is expected to take place at the beginning of 2018. The order is included in Valmet’s second-quarter orders received in 2016. The value of the order is more than €20 million.

“Utilisation of wood pellets as fuel increases the use of domestic renewable fuels in energy production and creates jobs in raw material sourcing and transport. The heating plant also supports Helen’s goals of climate-neutral production,” said Heikki Hapuli, director of Production and Distribution at Helen. “In designing the Salmisaari wood pellet plant we have been able to utilise the experiences gained in earlier, similar projects,” added Kai Mäenpää, VP of Energy Sales and Services Operations at Valmet. He explained: “The plant fulfils the tightening environmental requirements by utilising a low-NOx burner technique and efficient dust removal.

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The new heating plant at Salmisaari uses 21 tonnes of wood pellets per hour. Pellets are pulverized and burned in the burners of the boiler

“Pellets made of barkless raw material as well as industrial pellets, which have been produced by also including bark and forest residue, can be utilised as fuel at the plant.” Technical info Valmet will supply the wood pellet heating plant as a total delivery. Valmet’s delivery includes fuel conveyors from the existing storage silos, wood pellet grinding and the wood dust equipment, hot water boiler and flue gas cleaning by way of a bag hose filter. In addition, Valmet will supply the plant construction, electrification and a Valmet DNA automation system. Helen will be in charge of the construction of the foundation. The district heating capacity of the plant will be 92MW. Once in operation, the new plant’s energy output will correspond to the heating needs of 25,000 two-room apartments. Elsewhere, Valmet announced that it had helped a Finnish firm to meet its waste-to-energy targets. Following its first 25,000 hours of operation Finnish firm, Lahti Energia, 140MW combined heat and power Kymijärvi II waste to energy

gasification plant has achieved its set goals. The Kymijärvi II plant is one of the most modern waste-toenergy CHP plants in Europe. This solution demonstrated for the first time in Lahti helps reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by replacing 140,000 tonnes of coal with renewable fuel every year. The electricity production capacity of the Kymijärvi II plant for the city of Lahti is 50MW and the district heat production capacity is 90 MW. Valmet’s technology provides for a considerably high efficiency rate in electricity production. According to Valmet, the cleaning of product gas before combustion enables high steam values without the risk of boiler corrosion. This way, the Kymijärvi II plant is capable of producing electricity at an extremely high efficiency of over 30% compared to other waste to energy plants. “The development of waste gasification technology at the Kymijärvi II plant has been one of our largest energy projects in recent years. This development work has required a great deal of effort from us and Lahti Energia,” said Kai Mäenpää, VP for Energy Sales and Services Operations, EMEA, at Valmet. l

Bioenergy Insight

technology news Weltec Biopower constructs two AD projects in the UK Weltec Biopower, a bioenergy developer from Germany, is working to complete two anaerobic digestion projects in the UK, one in Northern Ireland and one in England. Weltec is currently building a 500kW plant for an agricultural enterprise near Strabane, Northern Ireland. The plant’s two stainless steel digesters (3,573m³ and 4,903m³) will be fed with 24,500 tonnes of cattle manure, whole plant silage, dry chicken dung, grass silage, sugar beets, and small quantities of maize. The project is progressing smoothly, Weltec says,

and the plant is set to go live and feed in power as early as summer 2016. Low Farm in Sherburn, England, has also decided to have its 500kW biogas project built with Weltec technology. Despite delayed project commencement and exceptionally wet weather, Weltec successfully completed the Low Farm plant ahead of the UK’s tight Feed-inTariff pre-accreditation deadline, ensuring long term financial viability of the plant for the client. Weltec constructed the plant, based on a 3,573m³ stainless steel digester, achieving G59 in September 2015 despite only starting work on site in the beginning of July 2015. The plant has been online since September 2015,

Warwickshire-based Weltec has reported the placement of orders for two new AD plants in England and Northern Ireland producing power and heat from pig manure, dry chicken dung, beets, and some maize silage. In both plants, the upstream MultiMix input system pretreats the substrates, enabling the operators to make use of inexpensive feedstock, such as manure and grass. The surface area of the input substances is enlarged

through effective shredding in order to optimise substrate/ bacteria contact and boost the methane yield. The MultiMix unit also removes stones from the feedstocks, reduces the likelihood of layering within the digester, and reduces the energy required for digester mixing. l

Xylem launches biogas support system Xylem, a water technology company, has launched a new biogas support system — the Flygt BIS 1 biogas support system — specially adapted for the wall-mounting of submersible mixers in biogas digesters. “Biogas digesters have a sealed cover which means accessing the tank to change the mixer position is difficult,” said Eilert Balssen, market manager Biogas and Agriculture for Xylem. “The Flygt BIS-1 biogas

support system enables operators to move the mixer on the guide bar from the outside of the tank.” He added: “With the introduction of this equipment to complement our high-efficiency biogas mixers, Xylem offers a complete biogas digester mixing system. This will ensure perfect fit and performance.” As the number one supplier of biogas mixers globally, Xylem has deep application knowledge supported by academic research, enabling its advanced mixing system to fulfill all mixing demands, while ensuring an optimal digestion process and maximising gas production. l

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May/June 2016 • 17

technology news

Future Biogas to distribute the new Economizer biogas technology in the UK Future Biogas and Biogas Systems have signed an exclusive UK distribution deal for the Economizer, a new biogas technology that could allow AD plants to save in the region of half a million pounds a year. The Economizer is a front-end process system that can be added to a biogas plant to unlock the full digestible potential of materials with high levels of lignin, in particular straw. This can cut down feedstock costs and means biogas plants can both be less affected by fluctuations in crop prices and less reliant on purpose grown crops. The process effectively cooks the feedstock under pressure and processes materials, such as wheat/ rape straw and pig muck, making them ready for digestion whilst using economically-viable amounts of electricity and high-grade heat. There is a significant reduction in retention time of the material and the technology has the potential to revolutionise the way biogas is made. “This could have a major impact on how biogas plants are built in the future and falls in line with the current Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) consultation. This technology ticks a lot of the right boxes for us,” Philipp Lukas, managing director and founder of Future Biogas said. Hermann Dauser, from Economizer manufacturer Biogas Systems, added: “In Future Biogas we have found the perfect partner to launch our technology into the UK. Their reputation and scale mean not only are they going to be our largest customer but they will also give the rest of the market the confidence to adopt our technology.” The largest Economizer can produce 2.5 tonnes of digestible material an hour, which — if using a wheat straw input — will generate in the region of 420m3 of biogas an hour. The system will need to be fed circa 7,500 tonnes of straw to produce enough biogas to run a 1MW combined heat and power (CHP) unit. The first Economizer has been running successfully since 2014 and

18 • May/June 2016

The Economizer in Parndorf, Austria, beside an AD plant has been supporting a 500 kWe plant in Parndorf, fed on a 50/50 mix of whole crop maize and a range of straws. Future Biogas will be the first company to take delivery and install the Economizers in the UK on a number of their operational plants by the end of 2016. Benefits of straw When considering the benefits of using straw, it is important to understand the current cost of feeding a crop fed biogas plant. A biogas plant in the UK currently pays in the region of £32 (€40.3) a tonne for maize over the weighbridge. However, there are hidden costs that biogas plants need to factor in, such as clamping (including plastic sheeting), moving the feedstock into the hopper, and unavoidable losses in the clamp, and ultimately a tonne of maize can actually cost the plant closer to £40. A plant needs around 20,000 tonnes of maize to run a 1MW CHP, resulting in a cost of £800,000 per annum. However, by using 7,500 tonnes of wheat straw at £30 a tonne, the cost would only be £225,000 which is a considerable annual saving. There are additional benefits, including no need for clamps, monthly deliveries of straw which reduces the need for working capital, and the abilty to source cheaper straws over time (such as finding low grade side and top bales from straw stacks).

Unlike conventional combusters, the Economizer is not a fussy eater as water can be added to the straw at the front end, eliminating the need to input high-grade straws that a biomass power station relies upon. In addition, the sustainability criteria also needs to be taken into account, as the UK supply chain comes under growing scrutiny for how much CO2 is released during the production of crop feedstock. There is now a requirement for AD operators claiming the RHI to report if the feedstock used is sustainable to Office of Gas and Electricity Markets. If the plant fails to meet the sustainability criteria, it will not be eligible for the RHI and may lose the tariff payment. Using crop residues or waste will mean the plant is contributing less CO2 in sourcing its feedstock and more likely to meet the sustainability criteria. Eligible feedstock for AD plants in the UK are also due to change, with the recent Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) consultation on the RHI tariff discussing two possible outcomes. These options include either a complete phase out of energy crop feedstock qualifying for tariffs on new plants or limiting the use of energy crops to 50% of total inputs. Either way, a technology that allows farm-sourced straw residues to be utilised in digesters effectively will lead to a fair amount of traction in the UK market place. l

Bioenergy Insight

technology news

Greenlane Biogas to supply biogas upgrading system to Canada Greenlane Biogas has received a contract from Orgaworld Canada, part of Shanks Group, to supply a biogas upgrading system and a CO2 recovery unit. The equipment will be delivered for Orgaworld’s organic biofuel facility in the city of Surrey in British Columbia, Canada. The facility is currently under construction and will have the capacity to process up to 115,000 tonnes of organic waste annually, collected from the city’s household waste collection programme and commercial waste from the region. The organic waste will be fed into anaerobic digesters to generate biogas, which will be upgraded by the system to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) with methane purity of over 97%. City-owned district energy system The RNG will be used to fuel the city’s fleet of natural gas waste collection and operations service vehicles, and supply the city-owned district energy system to heat and cool public and privately owned buildings. “After reviewing various technology

options for this project, we selected Greenlane Biogas for their proven experience, local support, and technology solution,” said Nigel Catling, the capital infrastructure director of Shanks. “Greenlane has previously completed two projects locally in Abbotsford and Delta, proving their technology works and the renewable natural gas produced from their systems meets the FortisBC specification.”

The Surrey biogas facility will be the first closed-loop integrated organics waste management system in Canada

The Biomass satellite is the European Space Agency’s (ESA) next Earth Explorer mission, with a launch scheduled for 2021. According to Airbus Defence and Space, the spacecraft will carry the first space-borne P-band synthetic aperture radar that will deliver accurate maps of tropical, temperate and boreal forest

Bioenergy Insight

The Surrey biogas facility will be the first closed-loop integrated organics waste management system in Canada. “This facility will allow the city [of Surrey] to recycle all the organic waste its residents produce by diverting the organic waste from landfills, and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions

World’s biomass to be measured with satellite Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, is to build a satellite that that will measure forest biomass to assess terrestrial carbon stocks and fluxes.

released into the atmosphere,” said Brent Jaklin, managing director for Greenlane Biogas North America. “We believe this project will be a great showcase for other cities looking for an economical and environmentally sustainable solution to manage waste,” Jaklin concluded. l

biomass that cannot be obtained with ground measurement techniques. The five-year mission will see at least eight growth cycles in the worlds’ forests and during that time the Biomass satellite will collect data on global forests to determine the distribution of aboveground biomass in these forests and measure annual changes. In a statement, François Auque, head of Space Systems at Airbus, said: “Collecting accurate data on the world’s biomass is key to our understanding of the world’s climate. We are very pleased to help ESA with this mission that will provide key data for scientists and climate scientists around the world.” l

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May/June 2016 • 19

technology news

Pentair Haffmans introduces CO2 recovery system for biogas Netherlands-based biogas equipment firm Pentair Haffmans has launched a compact enclosed skid CO2 recovery system that can be connected to any existing biogas upgrading plant.

Biogas produced through anaerobic digestion consists of roughly 55% methane and 45% CO2. With conventional biogas upgrading techniques the CO2 by-product and with it a considerable amount of methane is expelled into the air and is lost. This means not only economic loss but

also environmental damage. According to Pentair Haffmans, its CO2 recovery system allows plant operators to recover the CO2 from the biogas stream, which minimises the plant’s overall CO2 footprint, and allows for a wider choice in feedstock. The recovered CO2 can be used in a variety of applications including as gaseous fertiliser in greenhouses or for the production of dry ice. As the produced CO2 complies with EIGA (European Industrial Gases Association) specifications, an additional option can be to sell the liquefied CO2 to a third party. In a statement, Pentair Haffmans said: “Since

Pentair Haffmans’ CO2 recovery system entering the biogas upgrading market in 2010, Pentair Haffmans has experienced amazing success with its innovative technology. To date, 25-plus biogas upgrading

projects have been realized in the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the UK. Further projects are set to be completed in South Africa and the Philippines this year.” l

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20 • May/June 2016

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Bioenergy Insight

technology news

Veolia unveils new biogas innovation to help wastewater industry go green Waste management firm Veolia has unveiled a new technology to help wastewater treatment sites increase the amount of biogas output they produce through the anaerobic digestion (AD) process. Wastewater treatment plants process large amounts of sludge through AD. The biogas from this process is used to generate electricity using combined heat and power (CHP) plants. Veolia’s new system reduces the amount of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in the biogas output from the AD process and the pilot project has now demonstrated a 14% increase in renewable electricity generation. With estimated pay- back on investment of less than two years, it is also commercially better than technologies requiring biological or chemical dosing systems. By moving towards energy self-sufficiency it will also have the further benefit of reducing the electricity demand on the UK’s stretched electricity

grid, according to Veolia. Commenting on the development, John Abraham, COO Water at Veolia, said: “Recent estimates indicate that the water industry could be self-sustaining for electricity by harnessing the 11 billion litre annual flow of wastewater. “Our application of technology to this process demonstrates how we can help deliver greater sustainability for the industry using wastewater to energy systems, and also meet water industry carbon reduction targets. “By providing an additional 14% of renewable energy from an existing resource it also takes a further step towards the circular economy objectives recently agreed in Davos.” Around 190 UK wastewater sites now produce biogas to generate electricity which is used on site or exported to the National Grid. To maximise the efficiency of this form of generation Veolia’s team has developed an existing technology, used in the processing of food waste, to increase the quality of the biogas and derive more renewable electricity and heat.

Around 190 UK wastewater sites now produce biogas to generate electricity which is used on site or exported to the National Grid According to Veolia, the fully automated system accurately tracks biogas quality parameters to treat the sludge, and this process

results in an 80% reduction in H2S, helping increase the output and maintain the efficiency of connected downstream energy plant. l

DONG inks waste-to-energy tech agreement with Malaysian firm

Malaysian waste management company Cenviro will be using Dong Energy’s wasteto-energy technology after signing an agreement with the Danish firm. Dong Energy’s technology is called REnescienece. This uses enzymes to convert food waste

Bioenergy Insight

and organics household waste constituents into biogas. Thomas Dalsgaard, executive VP at Dong Energy, said: “Malaysia is a very interesting market for our technology, as there’s a growing need for exploiting the resources in the increasing waste volumes. A REnescience plant can produce large quantities of biogas from the very wet Malaysian household waste.”

Today, the majority of Malaysian waste ends up in landfill sites, which is a huge environmental challenge, and none of the resources are utilised. At the same time, waste volumes are increasing — in Malaysia and worldwide. According to the World Bank, waste volumes worldwide will have increased by 70% by 2025 compared to 2012. There is therefore a need to find new solutions to handle the waste. l

May/June 2016 • 21

green page Step into the light A UK cemetery is planning to utilise the biomass of its inhabitants to illuminate the graveyard. While the thought might make some feel queasy, we can rest assured that the deceased themselves probably won’t mind The silent residents of the Arnos Vale cemetery in the UK may get a chance to put in some after-life work hours powering the graveyard’s new lighting system. A research team from Columbia University (CU) in the US has won a competition to reimagine the historic resting grounds, opened near Bristol in 1836. The competition was organised by the University of Bath’s (UoB) — possibly the most macabrely named department ever — Centre for Death and Society. The vision of the winning team is to install a series of lights in the wooded areas around the graveyard, each powered by an urn containing biomass. In case you didn’t guess already, that would be the earthly remains of our dear departed. According to the idea’s creators — including CU’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, DeathLab, and Latent Productions — the lighting system, dubbed Sylvan Constellation, would serve as an enlightening memorial to those providing the power to the lamps. John Troyer, director of the UoB Centre for Death and Society, says the technology to dispose of people’s remains and the way they are immortalised has changed all through human history. The Future Cemetery project, which includes the lights, would bring Arnos Vale to the 21st Century, he says. “The Sylvan Constellation design is an outstanding mix of both respectful disposition for human remains and longer term thinking. It is also a great opportunity for Columbia University’s DeathLab, Latent Productions in New York City, the University of Bath’s Centre for Death and Society and Arnos Vale Cemetery to collaborate,” he told Bristol Post newspaper. “By working together on this project, collaborators will establish networks

22 • May/June 2016

The Arnos Vale cemetery will soon bathe in the creepy glow of corpse-powered lamps for longer-term projects involving innovative, sustainable design around end-of-life planning. This is an exciting time to be working on design projects that fully embrace topics like death, dying, and dead bodies and I very much look forward to seeing collaborations like this develop.” The team will receive a £5,000 (€6,365) prize and month-long contract to research the cemetery in order to design a prototype of the lighting system. According to Karla Rothstein from CU’s DeathLab, who will be part of the team visiting Arnos Vale this spring, the researchers’ goal is to develop a cemetery that celebrates life and death in an environmentally responsible manner. “Our team at DeathLab and Latent Productions is honoured to have Sylvan Constellation at Arnos Vale selected as the ‘first future cemetery.’ Our goal is to offer elegant options at death that are commensurate with the social and environmental values we respect while alive. “Our proposal aims to secure civic space for the future metropolis, allowing one’s last impactful act to gracefully and responsibly celebrate the vitality of life. DeathLab was founded to produce environmentally responsible projects

that reweave the ubiquity of death into the fabric of our cities, reminding us of our mortal finitude and the responsibility the living share to fortify our collective future,” Rothstein says. In addition to illuminating Arnos Vale, the Sylvan Constellation also includes plans to store digital data of the deceased’s online presence into each lamp. Troyer says the great innovation with the design will be the way in which the memorials also become used as a depository for our digital remains. “You only have to look back at the early internet of 20 years ago, and you will find that almost all of it has disappeared. It is like it never existed. Increasingly genealogists and historians are growing concerned about the way in which digital material can be lost with the ever-shifting nature of the Internet. “Increasingly our digital footprint is enormous. Just think how many marks we leave digitally every day of our lives. So we’re starting to think about how we preserve that element of our existence in the years to come, and how we leave something behind,” Troyer says. “If you think about it, cemeteries have always been a depository for the data of our lives, and this is just about making that role fit fully into the 21st century world.” l

Bioenergy Insight

incident report Bioenergy A summary of the recent major explosions, fires and leaks in the bioenergy industry Date



Incident information


Nghi Loc District, Vietnam

Gioi Go Viet Nam Co.

An explosion at a Vietnamese wood pellet plant left 11 people injured with severe burns. According to the Nghi Loc District police, initial investigation found the blast originated in a pipe supplying fuel to the wood pelleting machine. Two of the injured workers were in critical condition, and all of them have been compensated by local authorities.


Newby Bridge, UK


Fire crews were alerted to a blaze at a biomass plant near a popular hotel in Newby Bridge, UK. The fire was brought under control during the same day and no casualties were reported. No cause for the incident has been published by the time of writing.


British Columbia, Canada


Data from Canada’s WorkSafe shows that the organisation in last October fined the Conifex pellet mill in Fort St. James C$75,000 (€51,000) for safety violations. The WorkSafe investigation determined the company had put up to 30 workers at risk of death for neglecting to clean wood dust build-ups in several areas of the mill.


British Columbia, Canada

Pinnacle Pellet

A fire broke out at Pinnacle Pellet’s Lavington plant in the building used for drying the wood pellets. The fire was brought under control during the same day and no injuries were reported. The blaze is suspected to have started in a dryer, but according to the local fire department the precise cause may be difficult to discover.


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May/June 2016 • 23

Bioenergy plant update

Plant update – UK Clearfleau

Location Cumbria Alternative fuel Biogas Capacity 1,000m3 of biogas per hour Feedstock By-products from cheese manufacture Construction / expansion / Clearfleau is commissioning an acquisition anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in rural Cumbria, the largest AD facility in the UK at a dairy site Completion date April 2016 Investment £10 million (€12.7m)

Dong Energy

Location Alternative fuel Feedstock Construction / expansion / acquisition

Project start date Completion date Comment

Northwich, Cheshire Renewable energy Household waste Dong Energy, a Denmarkheadquartered energy firm, has unveiled plans to build a biomass plant, which turns unsorted household waste into energy February 2016 Scheduled for 2017 The plant will use the REnescience enzyme technology

Co Gen Location Protos, Cheshire Alternative fuel Renewable electricity Capacity 21.5MW Feedstock Waste wood Construction / expansion / CoGen has reached financial acquisition close and started construction on Ince Bio Power, a 21.5MW waste biomass project Designer/builder MBV Energy Project start date October 2015 Completion date 2017 Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners Location Lincolnshire Alternative fuel Renewable electricity Capacity 40MW Construction / expansion / The joint venture of Copenhagen acquisition Infrastructure Partners, PensionDanmark, and Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC) has completed the construction of a biomass power plant in the UK well ahead of schedule Designer/builder BWSC Project start date August 2013 Completion date February 2016 Investment £162 million (€233m) Deal Farm Location Bressingham Alternative fuel Biogas Feedstock Pig and chicken manure, maize silage Construction / expansion / Local authorities have greenlighted acquisition an application to build an anaerobic digester and associated infrastructure at Deal Farm in Bressingham Designer/builder Envitec Project start date July 2015

24 • May/June 2016

Estover Energy Location Cramlington Alternative fuel Renewable electricity Capacity 27.38MW Construction / expansion / Construction work is set to begin acquisition at Estover Energy’s Cramlington biomass plant, with BWSC performing the work Designer/builder BWSC Project start date December 2015 Completion date End of 2017 Investment £138 million (€191m)

Foresight Group Location Reading, Berkshire Alternative fuel Renewable electricity Capacity 499kW Feedstock Dairy farming residues Construction / expansion / Foresight Group has reached acquisition financial closure to construct an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant on the Mapledurham Estate Designer/builder BTS Biogas Completion date Projected for October 2016 Investment £3.5 million (€4.4m)

Full Circle Generation Location Belfast, Northern Ireland Alternative fuel Renewable electricity Capacity 61GWh Feedstock Landfill waste Construction / expansion / Full Circle Generation, a UK green acquisition investment consortium, is planning to build a major waste-to-energy farm in Northern Ireland Project start date November 2015 Completion date 2017 Investment £107 million (€152.2m)

Bioenergy Insight

plant update Bioenergy

Glennmont Partners Location Stockton-on-Tees Alternative fuel Combined heat and power Capacity 40MW Feedstock Waste wood Construction / expansion / Construction work has begun acquisition at Glennmont Partners’ Port Clarence Renewable Energy Plant Project start date 2009 Completion date Projected for 2018 Investment £160 million (€220m) HRS Energy Location Tansterne, East Yorkshire Alternative fuel Renewable electricity Capacity 22MW Feedstock Waste wood Construction / expansion / Renewable energy firm HRS acquisition Energy is developing a biomass plant Project start date March 2016 Completion date Projected for 2017 Investment £35 million (€45m) Mickram Location King’s Lynn Alternative fuel Biogas Capacity 9GW Feedstock Locally produced crops Construction / expansion / Mickram, a UK renewable energy acquisition company is exploring opportunities to build its first AD plant Project start date September 2015 Investment £3 million (€4m) Orthios Location

Holyhead, Anglesey, and Port Talbot, Neath Port Talbot Alternative fuel Renewable electricity Capacity 299MW Feedstock Waste wood Construction / expansion / Orthios, a UK sustainable energy acquisition company, is preparing to begin work on two combined food and power plants in the UK Project start date January 2016 Completion date Holyhead 2017, Port Talbot 2019 Investment £1 billion (€1.3bn)

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ReFood Location Dagenham, London Alternative fuel Biogas Capacity 2,000m3/hr Feedstock Food waste Construction / expansion / ReFood has started construction acquisition work on its anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in southeast London Project start date April 2016 Completion date Autumn 2016 Investment £32 million (€39m) Solar 21 Location Hull, England Alternative fuel Renewable electricity Capacity 22MW Construction / expansion / Solar 21 has acquired the project acquisition rights to a biomass power plant in Hull and is seeking to raise funding Designer/builder Heat Recovery Solutions Project start date October 2015 Investment €60 million St Andrews University Location Alternative fuel Construction / expansion / acquisition

Guardbridge, Fife, Scotland Sustainable heating Construction work is due to begin on a new biomass pipeline at the planned St Andrews University biomass plant in Scotland Project start date 2013 Investment £25 million (€32.5m) Comment St Andrews University is aiming to become the first carbon-neutral university in the UK Urbased/Balfour Beatty Location Haresfield, Gloucestershire Alternative fuel Renewable electricity Capacity 14.5MW Feedstock Municipal, commercial, industrial waste Construction / expansion / Engineering work has begun on a acquisition bioenergy plant in Gloucestershire Designer/builder Babcock & Wilcox Vølund Completion date 2019 Investment $90 million (€82.5m)

May/June 2016 • 25

Bioenergy plant update Viridor


Location Peterborough Alternative fuel Renewable electricity Capacity 7.52MW Feedstock Residual landfill waste Construction / expansion / Viridor has opened a state-ofacquisition the-art energy recovery facility in Peterborough to divert waste from city’s landfills Completion date January 2016 Investment £72 million (€91.4m)

Location Hampshire Alternative fuel Renewable electricity and heat Feedstock Dedicated farm crops Construction / expansion / Yelspa is expanding its AD plant acquisition at Apsley Farms to increase profit margins Project start date April 2016 Investment £13 million (€16.7m) Comment Funding for the expansion has been provided by the HSBC bank Zebec Energy

Weltec Bioenergy Location

Sherburn, England, and Strabane, Northern Ireland Alternative fuel Biogas Capacity Both 500kw Feedstock Agricultural residues Construction / expansion / Weltec Biopower is working to acquisition complete two anaerobic digestion projects in the UK Project start date April 2016

Location Seacombe Alternative fuel Biogas Construction / expansion / Zebec Energy is set to start acquisition building an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Seacombe after a goahead by local authorities Project start date September 2015 *This list is based on information made available to Bioenergy Insight at the time of printing. If you would like to update the list with additional plants for future issues, email

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Concrete protection WireTarp Your local contact partner: Ronan Lostanlen TEL: +33 612 52 63 85 26 • May/June 2016

Gas storage facility AGROTEL GmbH 94152 Neuhaus am Inn Bioenergy Insight

anaerobic digestion Bioenergy While currently facing issues that potentially threaten its entire existence, the UK AD industry has the potential to lead worldwide biogas production

Building a world-class AD industry


his year’s UK AD & Biogas expo on 6-7 July at the NEC, Birmingham, will be Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA)’s first international trade show. It firmly establishes the role the industry can play in the global economy, helping to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges, and the UK industry’s place at the crest of this technological revolution with over 450 agricultural, food waste, sewage, and on-site industrial anaerobic digestion (AD) plants. Having experienced an astonishing 600% growth in the UK outside of the water sector since 2009, the AD industry has huge scope to grow further and faster. Despite political challenges to renewable energy support, policies remain in place to support at least some further growth. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) budget will almost treble between now and 2021 and could support 100 additional biomethane projects. The government is actively looking at how to support biomethane in transport. There is plenty of current activity in the market, with an estimated 100 plants building now. Finally, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has specifically recommended that biodegradable waste should be removed from landfill and AD used to reduce emissions on farms. Overall, the UK industry’s future prospects are, however, under serious threat from ill-considered and short-term policies, which challenge the continued commercial viability of new AD sites. Despite the government’s renewed

Bioenergy Insight

Gas piping at AD operations at Spring Farm, Taversham, UK

commitment to the generation of renewable heat, RHI tariff degressions continue to alarm developers while support under the Feed-In Tariff (FiT) Scheme has been halved. In addition to reduced funding support, the government is consulting on the parameters of an RHI budget cap and hsalready implemented an FiT cap at the ridiculously low deployment level of just 5MW per quarter (industry has already exhausted this allowance for each quarter of 2016), thereby substantially curtailing industry growth just as AD had started to bloom. The impact of these tariff reforms is further compounded by the collapse on wholesale energy prices, tumbling gate fees in England as councils fail to back sourcesegregated waste collection schemes, and concerns about increasingly burdensome regulations emanating from the Environment Agency. Key steps These threats certainly present a challenging environment for developers to continue to turn a profit and suppliers to continue to build and update plants. There are, however,

three key steps that the industry is taking to maximise return on investment and sustain AD’s growth, which will be thoroughly explored at the UK AD & Biogas event. Firstly, the industry is determined to drive up standards and improve its performance. To this end, an industry Best Practice Scheme, which has support in principle from the Environment Agency and Defra, is being developed with broad industry input and will be launched at UK AD & Biogas 2016. Supported by an operators’ training package, it is hoped the scheme will be instrumental in raising professional standards and improving technical competence. Secondly, the AD industry is collaborating with worldleading UK researchers to innovate new sources of input, maximise the value of outputs, and reduce the overall cost of production. Developing new technology helps us improve performance, unlock new feedstocks, and generate more with less. It is vital to deliver our overall industry potential, equivalent to 30%

of domestic UK gas demand. Innovation within the water sector has been especially impressive, despite few new AD plants or generation assets on water treatment sites, with process improvements resulting in electricity generation from existing sewage sludge increasing by around 20% per year. Thirdly, with the UK’s AD industry having scaled to sustain a thriving domestic market for the technology’s operators and supply chain, there is a huge opportunity to seize momentum by building a world class AD industry capable of taking maximum advantage of a global market potentially worth billions. With the right policy support, continued innovation and plant deployment will ensure the industry drives down the cost of generating vital baseload energy and, in doing so, drives up AD’s return on investment. AD can potentially deliver 30% of domestic heat or electricity, save bill payers £1.2 billion (€1.5bn) in carbon abatement costs, fuel up to 80% of HGVs, reverse soil degradation trends that cost the UK about £1.4 billion each year, generate 30,000 more jobs, and extract the greatest possible value from inedible food waste. These are benefits that filter down to every household by ensuring a sustainable, yet profitable future where we not only maximise the value from our finite resources but also lead the rest of the world in doing the same. l

For more information:

This article was written by Charlotte Morton, CEO of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA). Visit:

May/June 2016 • 27

Bioenergy regulations Without the UK government waking up to the advantages of small-scale AD, the industry might face considerable difficulties, industry players say

On-site AD desperately needs the “right kind of support”


by Colin Ley

n-site anaerobic digestion (AD) has a good future ahead of it provided the sector is given the “right kind of support”, says the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA). Unfortunately, those most closely involved in the sector do not believe that the right kind of support is being provided at present or that there are sufficient signs of better support being given in the near future. “The problems and solutions affecting the progress of onsite industrial AD are pretty common to the rest of the market,” says ADBA’s head of policy, Matthew Hindle. “On the positive side, we’ve got a budget for the next five

years under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which is good news for the sector and will encourage the growth of AD biomethane to grid plants. There are definite opportunities for the onsite sector within that. “For plants that are geared to produce on-site electricity, however, the future looks a lot more uncertain with the Feed-in-tariff (FIT) being very heavily constrained, with tariffs having reduced a long way and with a cap being applied to the total number of projects that DECC with support each year.” With all of this adding up to a conclusion which is “nothing like” the level of backing and support which ADBA’s members think should be on offer, the general

industry view is that on-site AD growth is heading into a period of “real constraint”. “We’d like to see the government being more proactive on waste policy and doing more to require those who are producing organic waste to make sure that it is, first of all, reduced as far as possible, and then treated in a way that is sustainable,” says Hindle, adding that the sort of legislative action which would be needed to deliver such progress would go a long way to properly supporting the on-site sector. Unenthusiastic government Viewed from the sharp end of the industry, however, there appears to be little

Richard Gueterbock, marketing director of Clearfleau

evidence of any willingness from government to take this message on board. “Ministers and policy makers in the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) appear uninterested in the development of the sector,”

Time to ban food waste going to landfill THE WEST Country cheese

production and export business, Wyke Farms, already has three fully-employed onsite AD plants converting the waste from its £64 million-ayear (€80.8m) enterprise into energy. As a result, a further two plants are due to be added by the company shortly. “Our 100% green initiative is an undoubted highlight for the business,” Wyke’s managing director, Rich Clothier, tells Bioenergy Insight. “It really engages with shoppers and supermarket buyers, striking a chord with people across all demographics. In fact, we get more letters and emails about this issue, than anything else.”

28 • May/June 2016

The company’s existing three 5000m3 digesters, which are fed with lactose waste, apple pomace, bread waste, pig slurry, cow slurry, farmyard manure, and rapestraw, drive two 499kw CHP’s and enable an injection of up to 1000m3 of gas an hour into the grid. In terms of total value to the business, Clothier says the AD units are cutting Wyke’s CO2 emissions by 20 million kilos a year “Feed in tariffs and the RHI scheme were essential in enabling us to secure the finance we needed to build the plant,” he says. “As for the future, however, we now need the UK to place a ban on food waste going to landfill

Wyke team L-R: Roger Clothier, Rich Clothier, John Clothier, Dave Clothier and Tom Clothier

so that there is more fuel available for AD. In addition, and at the very least, we need the same guaranteed price for all renewables that is currently being promised to the nuclear industry, ie.

around 10p per kwh for power supplied to the grid.” Alongside his Wyke Farms commitments, Clothier is also a council member of the Confederation of British Industry.

Bioenergy Insight

regulations Bioenergy How on-site AD can and should work THERE ARE some great UK examples of how onsite energy generation can work, says Clearfleau’s Richard Gueterbock. “Our plant at Nestlé’s Fawdon confectionery factory, for instance, is supplying energy to the production process,” he says, adding that the same plant was visited by DECC Secretary of State, Amber Rudd, two years ago, although she had subsequently “failed to support the development of the sector”. Another example is First Milk’s cheese creamerybased AD plant in Cumbria, says Richard Gueterbock, marketing director of Clearfleau, the Berkshirebased specialist providers of on-site anaerobic bio-energy plants across the UK. “This is not just in relation to industrial sites with biodegradable residues but also other sectors such as farms (for manure, slurry and other residues) and rural communities (converting food waste to energy for local use). “There is considerable growth potential in smaller scale on-site digestion sector, providing renewable energy where the feedstock is produced. However, the government does not seem to recognise the value of smaller scale decentralised energy and its ability to provide base-load power at the place where the energy is generated.” Agreeing that there is a “huge opportunity” to convert bio-degradable residues into energy on industrial and other sites, Gueterbock stressed the need to focus more on developing smaller scale plants, warning that progress will not be made without developers being given good reason to gain confidence in the incentives being provided. In reality, he continued, the recent changes that have been made by the UK

Bioenergy Insight

which is converting cheese whey and production residues into biogas for use back in the creamery. The plant also enables the company to discharge cleansed water into the nearby river Ellen. “This plant has attracted considerable media attention due to its innovative approach,” says Gueterbock, adding that it also shows how decentralised energy generation can benefit local communities. “The challenge we face now is to demonstrate that the provision of modest government are making it much harder to secure the funding needed to develop new plants. “This applies across the AD sector,” he says, “and it is undermining on-site projects where our future effort should be focused. In the industrial sector, there is growing interest in on-site renewables due to the wider benefits on offer but this requires an incentive regime in the short term. We need government support to sustain an emerging market and build investor confidence.” Claiming that British on-site AD companies had been “let down” by a government that has failed to support smaller scale AD for a number of years,

Amber Rudd, MP, visits Nestlé’s AD plant, built by Clearfleau

support over the next five years, compared to the funding already being given

to nuclear or even shale gas development, will deliver a viable on-site AD sector.”

he pointed to the “excessive degression of FIT incentive rates below 500kW and, in particular, below 250kW” as the cause of much of the sector’s current problems. “Given that the FIT regime was intended to support smaller scale renewables, this is a ridiculous situation,” Gueterbock says. Asked by Bioenergy Insight to identify policy and support changes which would take the industry forward, Gueterbock says a number of urgent changes were needed, starting with better government recognition of the value of the decentralised generation of energy from bio-wastes.

In that context, he suggested the following points for the government to address: • Recognise that AD works well at a smaller scale and can reduce the carbon footprint of the agri-food sector and provide smaller agri-food businesses with a more sustainable future. • Restructure the FIT regime to support smaller scale on-site AD projects (under 250kW power output), while introducing a new FIT incentive band for very small plants under 100kW output. • Exclude smaller scale on-site AD from the unfair quarterly caps now being imposed on the development of new plants, making it hard to predict incentive rates and return on investment. “It is also about time that the rules in England were changed to ban biowaste from being sent to landfill, to match legislation already introduced by the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales,” he says. “Finally, if a fraction of the support provided for Hinkley Point was allocated to onsite renewables, it would create UK jobs and make a considerable contribution to the supply of the nation’s future energy needs.” l

Clearfleau provides AD plants like the one above to AD operators across the UK

May/June 2016 • 29

Bioenergy the big question

The BIG q The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has unveiled proposals to limit spending Will this have a negative effect on the AD industry? Yes/No

CooperOstlund’s Johan Ostlund

YES. The latest round of feed-in tariff degressions, which took place on 31 March, saw a significant reduction in subsidies for anaerobic digestion (AD) sites. Specifically, the tariff for facilities under 500kW reduced from 10.54 to 9.36p/kWh, while the rate for facilities greater than 500kW dropped from 9.16 to 8.68p/ kWh. Furthermore, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has also unveiled proposals to limit total FiTs spending to £75 million (appr. €96m) between now and 2019, which is expected to see a further reduction in financial support for AD. This, however, is not a surprise. We always knew that financial subsidies for the AD industry would reduce and eventually disappear entirely. That is the point of the FiTs scheme after

30 • May/June 2016

all. However, this is happening at a much quicker rate than was originally anticipated and comes at a time when we still do not have enough AD sites in the UK to handle the volume of organic waste generated every year. To date, the FiTs scheme has been hugely successful as a catalyst for significant investment in new AD technology. This said, there are concerns that further reduction in subsidies could make it harder for businesses to secure the funds to develop new sites. This will inevitably have a considerable impact on the rate of new AD installations in the UK. Yet for now, there are still FiTs available, albeit at a reduced rate, alongside further subsidies available through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). In the short-term, with FiTs degressions happening every three months, it is important for any business looking to develop sites in the UK to start construction work as quickly as possible. This will ensure the most optimum subsidy rates before the next degression round or the government cap on FiTs spending is reached. However, while achieving the highest tariff payment is important, in the longer term, we need to move away from the focus on financial subsidies. Support from the government for AD sites will eventually come to an end and the industry needs to recognise and develop AD sites as valuable business investments in their own right, with any subsidies seen as an added bonus. Generating and self-consuming renewable energy is not only hugely beneficial from an environmental perspective by cutting waste and carbon emissions, it can also significantly reduce bills and minimise overheads. Becoming self-sufficient can also ensure businesses

are protected against potential energy shortages or price spikes in the future. Efficient operation to maximise financial return

Ensuring that an AD plant is operating as efficiently as possible is the best way to maximise return on investment and lessen the impact of reduced subsidies. Poorly maintained engines could see site efficiency decrease by more than 20%. In financial terms, this could lead to losses of more than £35,000 every year from a single 500kW engine. An example of a well maintained plant is Andigestion’s AD facility in Cheltenham, where CooperOstlund installed an innovative CHP engine. The installation made the facility one of the only AD sites in the UK to operate entirely free of mains power. The facility recycles more than 34,000 tonnes of food waste every year and although benefitting from a token amount of FiTs, the main financial benefit is in the fact that the plant is entirely energy selfsufficient. It utilises renewable electricity and heat to power the plant and pasteurise the AD digestate, while exporting excess biomethane to the National Gas grid. The need to deal with the escalating waste challenge in the UK, combined with the requirement to produce a much greater percentage of renewable energy, means there is still great opportunity for the AD industry and it is a sustainable investment for businesses to make, even without guaranteed financial subsidies. Degressions will obviously have an immediate impact however, in the long-term, the benefits of recycling organic waste outweigh the need for financial support. l For more information:

This article was written by Johan Ostlund, director at CooperOstlund. Visit:

Bioenergy Insight

the big question Bioenergy


on the feed-in tariff subsidy scheme to £75m-£100m from January 2016 to 2018/19.

Bright Blue’s Sam Hall

NO. Anaerobic digestion (AD) can play

a role in meeting some of the UK’s environmental policy objectives. AD produces biogas, a renewable, lowcarbon energy source, which displaces fossil fuels. It also has some important co-benefits. Harmful methane emissions are reduced by diverting waste from landfill. Moreover, the digestate that remains after biogas has been produced can be applied to agricultural land in place of an artificial fertiliser. The UK government Committee on Climate Change has identified AD as a technology that can reduce emissions in the agricultural and waste sectors. However, in cases where biogas is made using purpose-grown crops, carbon emissions can actually increase through changes to land use. For this reason, it is important that there are appropriate safeguards on the sustainability of the feedstock if genuine carbon savings are to be achieved. This is a concern that the government has recognised, by making

Bioenergy Insight

public support for AD contingent upon developers meeting sustainability criteria. The last few years have seen a significant increase in AD capacity in the UK. The most recent figures from the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) show that in August 2015 there were 411 AD plants operating in the UK, generating over 500MW of power, with 89 new plants built in 2014 alone. The UK now has the second largest biogas industry in the EU, second only to Germany, which has more than 8,000 AD plants. The government recently capped the amount of subsidy available through the feed-in tariff scheme and introduced a degression rate to encourage the industry to keep cutting its costs. For now, however, demand for new AD projects is strong. Within 15 minutes of this quarter’s scheme being opened, the cap for new AD generating capacity had been exceeded. DECC is forecasting an additional 17 new plants this year under the reduced subsidy regime. As the degression rate cuts the level of subsidy, projects supported through the feed-in tariff will likely become less economical and harder to finance. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) also provides a subsidised revenue stream both for biogas and biomethane, an enhanced biogas that is injected into the gas grid. Following confirmation of funding for the RHI in last year’s Spending Review, DECC is now consulting on reforms to the structure of the scheme. Their consultation document sets out an ambition for an annual deployment of 20 biomethane plants by 2021 through the RHI. A self-sufficient industry The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has found that, by the end of 2016, there will be enough UK biomethane

capacity to replace four 60,000-tonne liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers, with potential for this to rise to 45 tankers’ worth by 2035. This would reduce the UK’s LNG imports by a quarter and offer significant carbon savings. One of the keys to the industry’s long-term future will be further cost reductions. In Bright Blue’s Green and responsible conservatism report last year, the think tank called on the UK government to set out clear trajectories for phasing out subsidies for renewable energy technologies. The government does not want to subsidise green industries in perpetuity through consumers’ energy bills. Subsidies are to be a temporary measure while supply chains and technologies develop and costs fall. There are signs that the industry is willing and able to meet this challenge. ADBA has recently launched a costcompetitive taskforce, which aims to bring down the levelised cost of energy to the same level as Hinkley Point C by 2020. The REA believes that the industry could also be helped by greater levels of food waste collection from households. Policy Exchange also called for mandatory food waste collection in their 2009 report on this subject. A report from the Green Investment Bank last year argued that greater consolidation of the number of operators in the AD market could also improve the economic feasibility of new projects. Anaerobic digestion is still a developing industry, with some important challenges to be resolved. However, the changes to the government’s subsidy regime will allow a small but successful UK industry to grow. l For more information:

This article was written by Sam Hall, researcher at Bright Blue. Visit:

May/June 2016 • 31

Bioenergy anaerobic digestion The AD industry has a vital part to play in recycling food waste and pushing the UK towards its 50% recycling target by 2020

New Hertfordshire AD plant boosts Britain’s food waste recycling credentials


ommercial and industrial food processors in Hertfordshire and Essex, in the UK, now have a greener, cheaper option for managing food waste, with the opening of a new anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Hoddesdon. Food and green waste recycling company Tamar Energy has added another link to its network and opened its fifth AD plant. The latest 3MW Hoddesdon facility has just come online and will transform as much as 66,000 tonnes of food waste a year into a biofertiliser and renewable energy for up to 6,000 homes. It is an important link in Tamar Energy’s network of sister facilities in Essex, Lincolnshire, Hampshire, and Nottinghamshire. Yet despite being a cost-effective and environmentallyfriendly waste management solution, the burgeoning AD industry still faces a unique set of challenges. The challenges Gaining access to food waste is a critical factor. Unsegregated food waste that remains in the residual waste stream is destined for incineration or landfill. Indeed, there is a seeming inclination towards waste incineration plants by local authorities grappling with severe budget cuts. Yet burning food waste is a short-sighted course of action, literally wasting the potential to create a valuable biofertiliser that returns nutrients to the soil. Evidence shows that relatively small investments into raising awareness

32 • May/June 2016

of household food waste collections can bring about a significant boost in collection rates and ultimately save the local authority money. A 2015 trial by Somerset Waste Partnership is a prime example. Targeting 115,000 homes with “No food waste” bin stickers and other simple measures saw a 20% rise in food recycling rates and saved £51,000 (€64,500). Similarly, the distribution of stickers and pro-recycling bin hangers by the Gloucestershire Joint Waste Partnership last year saw one district increase its collection rates by a staggering 30% in just a few months. With success stories around the country, the evidence suggests that a rollout of such programmes could reap any authority substantial rewards. Official effort In an effort to encourage authorities to boost recycling rates, the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) recently launched new guidance on how best to engage with people on food recycling. The guide comes with a suite of communications materials that help to spur households on in their recycling efforts. Evidence suggests that these campaigns do not need to be far-reaching and that local

Vehicle inside AD reception hall

Tamar Energy AD facility

drives, targeted at areas with low recycling rates, can see encouraging results. But while this offers benefits to both local authorities and of course the AD industry it could well be the UK government that holds the key to achieving progress on a national scale. Put simply, the government needs to enforce the waste hierarchy properly. The hierarchy is clear that all food that can be eaten, should be eaten. But when food waste is unavoidable it should be recycled, via AD, and not sent to incineration or landfill. We can all reduce the amount of food waste we create, and if unavoidable waste cannot be reused, then it should be recycled. The government needs to make sure that the waste hierarchy is being applied. It is enshrined in law, after all. The AD industry has a vital

part to play in recycling food waste and pushing the UK towards its 50% recycling target by 2020. There are encouraging results in Scotland and Wales already, which are forging ahead with food recycling legislation both for homes and businesses. In Scotland, recent regulation changes now require food businesses that produce just 5kg of food waste each week to recycle it. This raises the awareness of waste and encourages reuse as well as recycling. Similarly, Wales is leading the UK on its recycling rates, offering around 99% of households free food waste collections. With this strategy in place, Wales has exceeded its EU biodegradable waste targets an impressive eight years ahead of schedule. Tamar Energy is hoping its network of AD plants and composting facilities will play a part in tackling the food waste issue in England too. Its latest Hoddesdon plant offers forward-thinking companies the ability to be part of the solution and recycle food waste into power and biofertiliser too. l For more information:

This article was written by Dean Hislop, chief executive at Tamar Energy. Visit:

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Bioenergy anaerobic digestion Building an AD plant is no easy business, and being aware of the involved issues will help operators-to-be avoid common potholes

Challenges of building AD plants


n all construction and engineering industries, there are always challenges when it comes to building. The anaerobic digestion (AD) industry is no exception to the obstacles that occur throughout the construction process. The challenges that the AD sector faces when building AD plants does not just occur during the design and construction phase, but before the process begins and after it has been commissioned. It is advised that the chosen AD technology provider have considerable experience to be able to tailor the plant to the unique requirements of each client. It is important that the company offers to and liaises with banking institutions, local planning authorities, the Environment Agency, and local residents on behalf of the client before the process begins. This means that any potential issues that might arise when submitting planning or grid applications can be resolved beforehand to prevent delays. A multitude of challenges The first challenge that occurs when building an AD plant is gaining authorisation on grid connections and from the Environment Agency. With the boost in other renewable technologies in recent years, the grid capacity around the country is becoming more saturated in the countryside. It is becoming more difficult to achieve a full connection or the capacity required.

34 • May/June 2016

Four Barns’ anaerobic digestion plant

The Environment Agency also needs to be informed of works where waste products are in the feedstock (this does not apply to crop only plants) to ensure compliance and to

potential and impact on the process. If large quantities of feedstock such as maize has to be imported in, it starts to negatively affect the income stream. Some manures like

The visual impact and odour management of an AD plant is an area that planning officers are hot on allow for site inspection. Feedstocks can raise a number of challenges depending on which is used. It is important to not only utilise the available feedstock, but to also understand its gas yield

poultry litter in large doses can have a damaging effect on the AD plant, due to containing high levels of ammonia that restricts the biological process of the plant. Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) also can be hugely

problematic to an AD plant as it is not only dangerous to humans but it reacts and breaks down the concrete tanks and the combined heat and power (CHP) generator. It is extremely important that it is considered during design and monitored when operating. Another challenge that occurs when building an AD plant is being able to finance the project. With recent changes in legislation regarding the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the deductions in Feed in Tariff (FiT) rates, the industry is being squeezed. Proposals for changes to RHI (presently at consultation stage) have also been put

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anaerobic digestion Bioenergy forward to restrict crop only plants and digestate drying. These cuts and changes have not by any means made AD uneconomical, but it creates more of a barrier when financing the plant build. The banking regulations when it comes to funding and loans pose a potential difficulty to get the project started, especially as the banks will not lend to an existing failing business. It is vital to obtain key payback and return figures when it comes to gaining investment from banking institutions or renewable funders. In regards to planning, ground conditions and the visual impact have a key part to play. Ground conditions can be a deciding factor in whether a project can get off the ground on the first place. Constructing on soft, permeable ground will not only lead to potential subsidence issues but it will likely be challenged by the Environment Agency and will draw in extra expenditure with bunding the tank. The visual impact and odour management of an AD plant is an area that planning officers are hot on, especially if there are surrounding businesses and residential areas. It is important that local residents are on board with the build. Even though AD has been around for a number of years, it is still a fairly misunderstood sector in terms of the impacts that it has on the area. Physically constructing the AD plant does not tend to raise too many issues as long as the ground conditions and locality is suitable. It is more the feedstock and the durability of the materials used. Due to the potentially reactive digestate that is produced by AD plants, it is important for construction and manufacturing companies to install robust parts, especially the pipework, tank, and CHP. Reliability is also a challenge when it comes to operating AD plants, as they require biological and mechanical maintenance. The plant should be consistently running, unless

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there has been scheduled downtime for maintenance. This means that monitoring of the plant’s performance is crucial to ensure the digester continues to function properly. Regular sampling needs to occur to check that the plant’s biology is at its optimum. If the engine is not running, income will not be generated. A case in point A prime example of an AD plant that had to overcome the challenges that occur when building is Four Barns, a recently completed AD4Energy project based in Romney Marsh, Kent, UK. The soft surrounding ground posed a big issue to the company, especially as the tank was a partially buried concrete tank. To resolve this issue, the company designed the tank with a wider base to spread out the load weight of the digester. The 200kW, semi-plug flow AD plant is now producing around 17,200m³ of biogas a week (above its predicted weekly target), running on its current feedstock of maize. It is consistently reaching between 95-100% total possible CHP output. Through combatting the challenges that come with building an AD plant, it has provided the client with a reliable route to generate revenue and energy. Richard Apps, from the Four Barns AD plant, states: “Taking the step to build a small-scale AD plant on our farm was worthwhile as the benefits are vast, especially economically. It gives us a sustainable business model for the future and we can budget on our return to avoid some of the risk from the unpredictable markets, which the agricultural industry faces today. “As our plant runs on 100% energy crop, it has given us two extra crops to our rotation. This is one of the few weapons we have to fight against an ever increasing blackgrass problem. The larger variety of crops in our rotation has allowed us to decrease the blackgrass seed

bank in the soil and still gain a good margin per hectare. “There is no doubt that without the AD plant the business would not be able to sustain current levels of employment with such low commodity prices.” AD4Energy is a British company that specialises in the design, build, and commissioning of small-scale AD plants for the agricultural sector. As with other AD companies, it has experienced the difficulties of building AD plants and the challenges they present. However, through experience it has learned how to combat the main issues. The company supplies AD technology either in the form of a partially buried, rectangular, semi-plug flow digester or as an above ground, circular, CSTR digester. The partially buried digesters are particularly favourable with planners,

combatting potential planning issues, as it has a low visual impact and can be designed to fit in with the surrounding farm buildings if necessary. Both types of digester can be tailored to closely match the client’s feedstock and energy requirements, making them more cost effective and efficient. The feedstock is also sampled by the company to provide key data on what feedstock can be used and the quantities. This allows the farm to dispose of the waste in an environmentally friendly and economical way. Planned preventative maintenance is also provided to by the company to help monitor the plant biologically and mechanically, to reduce the risk of the plant failing or being damaged. l For more information:

This article was written by Rachel Williams, HR & marketing assistant at AD4Energy. Visit:

May/June 2016 • 35

Bioenergy anaerobic digestion AD plant operators often forget that their processes also produce heat, which can be used to make the whole operation more efficient

The forgotten element


naerobic digestion (AD) produces many valuable and useful products, including biogas (which can then be turned into heat, electricity, or biomethane gas) and digestate, a biofertiliser rich in nutrients and organic matter. However, many farm AD plants also produce incidental heat, which can be captured and used within the AD process or for other on-site operations. Wasted heat is becoming increasingly important, not only from an economic point of view, but also politically. In the UK, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is the key policy driver to encourage the utilisation of heat from renewable sources, including incidental heat from the AD process, while some European countries now specify targets for the use of heat from AD plants. Sources of heat Surplus heat produced by biogas combustion in a combined heat and power (CHP) unit is the most common heat source within an AD plant. Other processes which result in residual, usable heat include: • Digestate pre-heating • Digester heating (especially in summer when less heating is required) • Pasteurisation (either before or after digestion) • Electricity generation (e.g. via CHP) • Biogas upgrading to biomethane (heat is required for the process, but up to 75% of it can be recaptured and reused) • Digestate concentration

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For example, a minimum temperature of 70˚C may be required for pasteurisation, leaving 30-40˚C of “leftover” heat, which has historically been wasted to the atmosphere. This heat could instead be put to good use elsewhere within the AD process. Equally, heat left over from concentrating digestate could be used within pasteurisation. What is a heat exchanger? Heat exchangers take heat from one process or place and transfer it to another. In practice, they allow the heat from a liquid or gas to pass to another liquid or gas without the two having to mix together or come into direct contact. Common everyday examples include domestic radiators (which transfer heat from a boiler to a room) and car radiators (which take heat away from the engine). Heat exchangers are used for numerous applications, including space heating, cooling, air conditioning, sewage treatment, food processing, and in chemical industries. Increasingly, their potential role in the AD sector is being recognised, with more plants specifying their inclusion at the design stage or retrofitting them, either to improve overall process efficiency or to use heat which would otherwise be wasted. There are different types of heat exchangers and it is important that the right type is selected for a particular application. Two of the most common types in use today are plate heat exchangers and tubular heat exchangers. However, within

Diagram of the AD process

these broad categories, there are many different models and refinements and it is important to understand what is being offered. It is therefore advisable to consult a specialist who can explain the benefits of different types and perhaps offer different solutions. For example, viscous fluids, such as digestate, can quickly foul tubes and surfaces. For this reason, scraped surface heat exchangers are usually recommended, as they will constantly remove such fouling. However, another option is to use a tube design, which will minimise fouling in the first place. HRS corrugated tube heat

exchangers are designed so that the constant swirling of the fluid in the tube prevents sediment and clogging. Whichever system is proposed, it is important to compare running costs, including maintenance and cleaning, over the full life of the plant. Downtime caused by regular dismantling or cleaning can quickly eat into any capital savings made at the time of purchase. Potential uses for heat in the AD process So, having identified a source of heat, what can be done with it? There are a number of options with the AD process,

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anaerobic digestion Bioenergy including preheating feedstock, which can help speed up the digestion process or improve gas production. The heat can be utilised in pasteurising, for example to meet PAS 110 requirements for digestate or to ensure crop hygiene, and to improve the quality and reduce the volume of digestate. Using surplus heat in an HRS Digestate Concentration System (DCS), for example, can reduce digestate volumes by around 60%, bringing significant savings in storage, transport, and application to farmland, while retaining all the nutritional benefits. Finally, using waste heat to upgrade biogas to biomethane for use as a transport fuel or for injection into the gas grid is also becoming increasingly common and helps to fulfil AD’s potential as a diverse energy source. What’s more, depending on the exact technology used, as much as 75% of the heat

Digestate pasteurisation process components

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world, more unusual uses for heat have also been seen, such as aquaculture for fish production, further electricity generation through the use of Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology and Kalina Cycle low temperature generation systems, or transporting heat in containers which utilise latent heat storage technology. An endless cycle?

HRS DTI tubular heat exchanger

used for biogas upgrading can then be recovered. Other uses for heat Captured heat can be used almost anywhere, provided that it is economically and practically feasible to transfer it. Even low

temperature water can be used to reduce the amount of additional heating required, for example by a boiler. There are many uses of heat at an AD plant, whether the plant is farm or food based. For farms, heat can be used for space heating of greenhouses and polytunnels to drying crops or biomass fuels. Many livestock buildings require heat, particularly for pig and poultry production, and where farms have diversified to create office or business centres, there is often the scope to install district heating systems. And at a food plant, heat can be used for space heating and cooking, for heating liquids to aid processing as well as pasteurising and sterilising foodstuffs. In other parts of the

It may be tempting to think that heat can be recaptured and used over and over again, but unfortunately, this is not possible. However, what is possible is to reuse some of the leftover heat to improve operational efficiency. Systems that do this, such as an HRS digestate pasteuriser, can often deliver efficiency savings of 40% or more compared to traditional pasteurisers without heat recovery. With careful planning and a long-term approach that considers the full life of an AD plant — not just initial purchase prices — the individual heat loads of each process within an AD operation can be greatly reduced by using recaptured heat, resulting in improvements in both efficiency and product quality. l For more information:

This article was written by Matt Hale, international sales manager at HRS Heat Exchangers. Visit:

May/June 2016 • 37

Bioenergy anaerobic digestion Separating food waste from its packaging prior to processing is one of the major challenges for AD operators

Adding value to packaged food waste


ackaged food waste is a valuable commodity and a rich source of material for anaerobic digestion (AD) plants. The main foodstuff materials available are packaged supermarket waste and kerbside-collected kitchen waste, which generally arrives in biodegradable starch bags, which pose their own problems to AD. If not removed, they wrap around mixers, block pumps and screw conveyors, and take up valuable space in the digesters. The bags will not break down in the digesters, as they require air to degrade (aerobic). Depending on the environmental conditions and thickness, starch bags will take from six weeks up to one year to totally degrade. Farmers are not so keen to spread digestate that includes starch bags because their fields initially gain the appearance of a landfill site prior to the bags decomposing. Starch bags are only made up of typically 15% starch, the remainder being inorganic matter. There is a growing number of systems on the market to be the solution to the depackaging problem. The majority of the depackaging equipment presently available is based on hammer mills or shredding machinery, which shred the packaged food waste before passing it through a squeezing process. Shredding reduces all the material to a similar size, increasing the difficulty of separation at the next stage. The size of the screens

38 • May/June 2016

fitted affects the amount of packaging passing through with the feedstock and on the quality of organics carried over with the separated packaging. The smaller the screen size, the cleaner the feedstock and the higher the organic material content of the separated packaging. The amount of organics found in the packaged waste after separation is also affected by the size of the dry solids content of the organic fraction. The larger the size of the organic solids, the higher the organic content of the separated packaging will be, using this method of separation. The organic carryover must be kept to a minimum, as not only does it mean losing more valuable fuel source material than necessary, but also adds to the weight of the recovered packaging material, increasing the disposal costs. With some packaged materials, the organic content found in the packaging after separation was greater than 20% using this method of depackaging. Shredding the materials prior to separation makes it more difficult to achieve the high separation efficiencies required by AD plants. The greater the size difference achieved between the packaging and contents, the easier it is to separate them efficiently. Organic contents The Atritor Turbo Separator depackaging system is used in the recovery of food waste

Inert Content


2mm — 5mm

Plastic Films



Plastic Particles




0% 0%


0% 0%


0% 0%

Inert Material <2mm


material from its packaging. The Atritor Turbo Separator is designed to open the packaging just enough to allow the contents to be removed. Keeping the size differential as large as possible between the packaging and the organic contents allows high separation rates to be achieved using relatively low power, when compared with the alternative methods of separation. Both packaged dry and liquid materials can be efficiently separated using the Turbo Separator. The machine, utilising centrifugal forces and the mechanical action generated by its paddle system, damages the packaging just enough to achieve separation rates of up to 99% efficiency. The results taken from a sample of recovered feedstock that had been separated from packaged mixed supermarket food waste using a TS3096 Turbo Separator system, are illustrated in the accompanying table (see table above). The total sample size collected was 20kg and the analysed sample size was 1.272mm. The organics were removed from the solids content by

0.51% dissolving and flushing the material in three separate stages, which consist of three-, four-, and six-hour process periods to reveal the inert contents. The analysis was conducted by a company independent from either Atritor or the AD plant where the sample was taken. Atritor has supplied over 150 Turbo Separator systems to waste companies, animal feed companies, food manufactures, and secure destruction plants, but it is the growth of the AD industry and the use of packaged food waste as a rich and reliable source of feedstock that has driven the growth in sales during the past few years. Many sites have the TS3096, which can unpack around 8-10 tonnes an hour, although a several sites, including some in Italy, Canada, and the UK, now use the TS42120, which is capable of up to 20 tonnes per hour. A number of AD plants using this depackaging technology already have or are in the process of achieving PAS110 certification. l For more information:

This article was written by Mark Hulme, sales manager at Atritor. Visit:

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Schmack Biogas UK Ltd. · Phone +44 (0)870 870 30 58 · info@

xxxxxx Bioenergy From bio-waste to bio-methane – everything from a single source

The Viessmann Group biogas competence brands are among the leading suppliers of biogas technologies with the experience that comes from building over 450 plants. W from 50 kWel to 20 MW gas and provide professional support of all biogas related issues: Plant design, construction and commissioning Key biogas plant components Gas-upgrading technology for bio-methane production

Visit us from July 6th – 7th at the UK AD & Biogas 2016, Stand no. J203 at Birmingham NEC

Energy from waste via dry digestion or IVC (In-Vessel-Composting) Technical services and biological support More information at

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May/June 2016 • 39

Bioenergy anaerobic digestion

AJ Tensile mebrane

Gas holder of choice

The use of membrane structures for roofs, biogas containment and permanent structures in the waste water industry is becoming increasingly common


ecently the expression “AD” has been used increasingly to refer only to agricultural waste anaerobic digestion schemes. But anaerobic digestion has been in use since as early as 1895 in the municipal water industry — albeit its extensive use was introduced considerably later — and it is here in the municipal wastewater sector that AD has found its greatest application. Despite initial promise, the agricultural AD sector remains highly fragmented. Nevertheless, the market overall holds huge promise, especially in the specific area of membrane gasholders and digester covers. The double membrane gasholder was first developed in mainland Europe, and a few were deployed on UK sludge digestion plants from the

40 • May/June 2016

1980s, but they have become increasingly the gas holder of choice in the UK, Europe, the USA, and now all over the world as the advantages of these structures become more and more evident.

used to these futuristic looking structures on sewage treatment works adjacent to trunk roads and motorways, and no longer think that the secret services have more installations

Motorists are becoming used to these futuristic looking structures on sewage treatment works adjacent to trunk roads and motorways Economical, long-lasting, quick and easy to install, excellently engineered, with membranes specifically designed to withstand the harsh chemical environment presented by biogas with its elevated levels of hydrogen sulphide and, not irrelevantly, aesthetically pleasing, double membrane gasholders are here to stay. Motorists are becoming

than is required for our security needs, or indeed that aliens have landed! Why a membrane? One of the major drivers in the wastewater treatment industry, certainly in the UK, is that of minimising energy use in the treatment process. With sophisticated designs of biogas systems,

a net-zero energy solution in now within sight. Rather than seeing a sewage treatment plant as being a necessary but unattractive blot on the landscape, it is far better to see a wastewater treatment facility as a factory generating clean water, fertiliser (recycled and treated sludge), and energy from the biogas used as a fuel in combined heat and power plants. A key part of this thinking must be to minimise capital costs. This is where the use of membranes in biogas structures comes into its own, as they are extraordinarily cost-effective. So whether or not we talk about the agricultural sector, the municipal sector, the food waste sector, or the industrial sector, the technology of AD is here to stay and is a hugely exciting area in which to work. Membrane gasholders specifically show a promising

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anaerobic digestion Bioenergy future. The AJ Tensile Group, recognising the value of and interest in these structures over a period of years, started manufacturing double membrane gasholders in 2006, and in 2013 established a new company to service the double membrane gasholder market. The possibilities The possibilities for these membrane structures increase with time. Some years ago, a 5,000m3 capacity gasholder (around 17m high) was deemed to be towards the upper end of the technically viable size range, but AJ Tensile has managed to surpass this limit. The company first built two 9,000m3 capacity gasholders for Black & Veatch (for United Utilities), before proceeding to design three 15,000m3 capacity gasholders for the Middle East. At the moment, the company is capable of achieving 25,000m3 capacity structures some 29m high. At the other end of the size spectrum, it has supplied a few mini-gasholders at 20m3 capacity just 2.5m high. The structures are made from advanced PVC-coated polyester fabrics which are designed to withstand both climatic (wind load and snow load) conditions as well as the aggressive atmosphere created by biogas with its hydrogen sulphide content, which, in the saturated conditions which biogas is generated in, creates weak sulphuric acid. One of the attractions of these membrane gasholders is that their design and fabrication can be extraordinarily quick, particularly when the whole manufacturing operation is carried out under one roof. A recent example of quick turnaround was with a Dutch client, who wanted to install a gasholder on a paper manufacturing site where AD is used to treat the paper waste.

Bioenergy Insight

AJ Tensile installation in Cardiff, Wales

From the initial request for a design, through tendering, designing, gaining approvals, fabricating, assembling, transporting, installation and commissioning, the whole process took just one month. The result is a satisfied client who has received a major piece of plant, and had it up and running in a very short time. The equivalent time to achieve the same result using traditional steel components would be a matter of months. Not just a vessel It is often thought that a gasholder, be it a membrane gasholder or an old-fashioned steel one, is just a vessel for containing biogas. But it is much more than this. It is also a control instrument, a device to control both up- and down-stream processes. For example, the level of the inner, gas-holding membrane (and hence the volume of gas being stored), is measured, using an ultrasonic transducer or a laser device, and this information can then be used to dictate the turning off or on of combined heat and power sets or surplus gas burners. Hence the gasholder is controlling the various “users” of the gas, as well as acting as the primary storage vessel. The pressure in the gas being stored can also be varied if required. Usually, such gasholders

work at a low pressure, between 5 and 50mbar. The gasholder design is both elegant and simple. The membranes are manufactured from PVC-coated polyester fabric, and the materials used are very high-tech, with some membrane materials

less than 1mm thick being capable of holding a load of 28 tonnes on a 1m wide strip. The membranes are patterned digitally from threedimensionally modelled input. The gasholder’s outer membrane is inflated with air which both pressurises the inner gas-holding membrane and inflates the outer membrane to give wind and snow-load resistance. AJ Tensile gasholders will resist 1 in 50 year storms, and can be located anywhere in the world, with no real limits to ambient temperature. Whether the gasholder is in the desert on in the Arctic, the membranes will always be fit-for-purpose. l

For more information:

This article was written by Richard Cherry, director of engineering at AJ Tensile. Visit:

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More than 30 years experience in combined heat and power Wolf Power Systems, Represented by Konduit Ltd, Tel. : 01926 623 280,

May/June 2016 • 41

Bioenergy anaerobic digestion UK-based dairy farm installs a new 140kW engine in a bid to become energy self-sufficient

Powered by cheese: Norfolkbased farm enjoys energy boom


aced with an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant not operating effectively, Stephen Temple — a Norfolk-based dairy farmer and co-owner of Mrs Temple’s Cheeses — enlisted the help of CooperOstlund to give him advice on a new engine solution to turn unwanted waste into renewable energy. Installed and commissioned in less than 48 hours, the 140kW system now generates more than £220,000 revenue for the farm every year. A new venture As part of a diversification venture for their 230-hectare dairy farm, Stephen Temple and his wife Catherine made the decision to launch a luxury cheese brand. From Bingham Blue and Walshingham, to Mozzarella and Wighton, Mrs Temple’s Cheeses is now renowned nationwide as one of the UK’s finest artisan producers. With sales increasing every year, cheese production has quickly become a key source of revenue. However,

Two of CooperOstlund’s national site servicing engineers arrive on site

with a large volume of whey generated during production, combined with cow slurry, fodder beet and maize silage from the farm’s wider operations, waste volumes

into methane gas via the natural degradation of organic waste. Using a combined heat and power (CHP) engine, this gas could be turned into renewable energy and

Getting it right from the outset was important, but the project didn’t run as smoothly as expected and disposal costs have also continued to escalate. Temple therefore decided to invest in an on-site AD facility, which would turn this waste

used to power the farm, driving down both energy and waste management costs. Getting it right from the outset was important, but the project didn’t run as smoothly as expected. The AD plant wasn’t operating effectively, which saw energy production and return on investment figures drop. After researching specialist CHP advisors, Temple came across CooperOstlund — a UK-based gas engine specialist — who reviewed the site and advised a more effective solution. From construction to completion

Stephen Temple, co-founder of Mrs Temple’s Cheeses next to his 140kW CHP engine

42 • May/June 2016

Taking waste volumes, feedstock type and energy

requirements into close consideration, CooperOstlund removed the existing biogas engine — replacing it with a considerably more efficient alternative. The new CHP engine produces 170kW electrical and 198kW thermal energy to heat the dairy, farmhouse and other buildings, as well as warm the cows’ drinking water and power the grain dryer. Excess power is exported directly to the National Grid and, thanks to government subsidies, delivers a financial return of more than £220,000 per year. In addition, the CooperOstlund team provides an ongoing servicing and maintenance contract to keep Temple’s CHP engine running throughout the day and night. Efficient turnaround In a short space of time, the AD operation has transformed. Temple has completely eliminated organic waste, while becoming self-sufficient in terms of energy overheads. As such, he was recently voted Farmers’ Weekly Green Energy

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anaerobic digestion Bioenergy We’re so impressed by the continued support and expertise offered, knowing that we can call upon service technicians day or night.” Stuart Cooper, director at CooperOstlund, adds: “Using insight and experience from across the team, we were able to understand the existing project complications, before effectively installing a completely new engine and getting the site back up-and-running quickly. “Temple’s AD site is now running at maximum efficiency, delivering an excellent return on investment and helping to minimise waste disposal costs.” l

A CooperOstlund engineer inspects a combined heat and power (CHP) gas engine

Farmer of the Year, and is now looking towards additional processes to minimise his environmental impact. “With any AD site, making

the right engine choice is hugely important,” says Temple. “From our own personal experience, you can lose a significant amount

of revenue by not getting it right from the outset. “Thanks to CooperOstlund, our AD site is now generating more than £600 every day.

For more information:

This article was written by Johan Ostlund, director at CooperOstlund. Visit:

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May/June 2016 • 43

Bioenergy wood chips

Statkraft EnPlus A1 wood pellets in store in the UK

A renewable energy giant has decided to invest in innovative woodchip technology due to an ever-growing biomass industry. Here, the company provides an exclusive update on latest developments in two key areas of its expanding biomass trading operations

Chip off the old block


uring 2015 Statkraft turned a former pulp mill site, based in Tofte, Norway, into a new wood chip trading “hub”. Located close to Scandinavian customers, with 35 hectares of storage and deep water berths capable of receiving panama-sized wood chip carriers, the Tofte site is an ideal opportunity for the company to expand its biomass trading operations. The company is processing seasoned round wood to produce energy chips at the site, with moisture content close to 30%, representing an excellent energy fuel source with pioneering sustainability credentials. There is significant annual growth for the demand for Scandinavian woodchips forecast for the next few years, and Statkraft has

44 • May/June 2016

responded by creating a new fuel product that is tailormade for these customers. Whereas most producers of wood chips are simply getting rid of their by-products from, for example, sawmilling, Statkraft’s experience in the energy markets identified the need for a custom-designed energy chip. This chip is carefully sized to mitigate handling problems and is light in weight, which helps to mitigate freight costs. The wood chip also ensures boiler efficiency during even the coldest months.

Biomass Partnership) certified by this summer. In addition, Statkraft can help other wood chip manufacturers who are located a long way from their customer base, by optimising their wood chip logistics via storing, blending, and reloading

into optimal vessel sizes for delivery to the final user. Statkraft ultimately aims for an annual throughput of 500,000 tonnes of handled biomass materials to service the European energy market, and the company is planning to repeat its recipe

Sustainability The biomass is sourced from some of the world’s most sustainably managed forests, which are 100% certified in accordance with PEFC standards. The company expects to be SBP (Sustainable

Statkraft loads woodchips at its Tofte hub in Norway

Bioenergy Insight

wood chips Bioenergy at other ideal European wood chip production sites. Expect more news. UK’s RHI market In 2014, Statkraft opened wholesale ENplus A1 wood pellet operations in Avonmouth, a port located in the outer suburb of Bristol, England, to service the rapidly growing the UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) market. The company imported large shipments of high quality ENplus A1 and BSL approved pellets, managed the warehousing operation, and loaded out pellets into end user tankers. In 2015, the company extended this type of service by opening a new terminal in Hull, servicing the Midlands and North East. And it doesn’t stop here — the group has identified further locations where a large number of distribution companies have asked Statkraft to service their pellet operations. Statkraft has a large international commodity trading division which sources the biomass for these warehouses enabling UK companies to access high quality, competitively-priced renewable fuel. The company, being 100% owned by the Norwegian government, adopts a very high standard for sustainability and greenhouse gas footprint for these pellets. Looking ahead, Tiago

Round wood delivered to Statkraft’s Tofte plant

Bioenergy Insight

Thomaz, senior biomass trader, noted Statkraft’s intention to invest and innovate in the market. He explains: “We are working with producers to improve pellet chemistry and properties offering pellets

want to be the best service provider in this market by providing high levels of flexibility in terms of product sourcing, handling & logistics and commercial terms thus enabling our customers to focus on delivering high value

Key facts

ABOUT STATKRAFT’S BIOMASS HUB • The biomass hub at Tofte represents a deep water and short sea vessel ice-free berth capacity and its strategic location is perfectly suited for sustainable biomass products. • The terminal offers multiple vessel berths, with fast loading facilities operating 24 hours, seven days a week, ensuring a quick turnaround of vessels and enabling customers to accelerate their supply chains to receive their products on a just-in-time basis. • Tofte has sufficient storage capacity for 100,000 tonnes of round wood logs and 50,000 tonnes of wood chip, as well as offering covered storage for wood pellets on site at the same time. Supplies to Tofte of biomass material are received by road and sea.

added services in the retail end of the spectrum.” Commenting on the ongoing consultation into the format of the RHI, Thomaz concludes: “The re-focussing on the larger scale users of biomass heat, like process industries, suits Statkraft very well. We have a long history of fuelling, owning, and operating biomass to heat facilities across Europe. “We are well known and respected by developers, advisers and lenders, and our ability to write long term contracts should support the development of opportunities in the UK RHI market from 2017.” l

For more information:

This article was written by Christopher Moore, head of Biomass Trading and Origination for Statkraft. Visit:

• Statkraft’s future plans for Tofte include the expansion into the biofuel sector with the implementation of a production facility in partnership with pulp supplier SödraCell.

with quality above the industry standard, developing a containerisation supply chain (bulk and bags), and developing financial price risk management contracts based on the new Euronext format which should be of great interest to our customers.” He adds: “Above all, we

Statkraft loading pellets in Portugal

May/June 2016 • 45

Bioenergy biomass boilers The trend of power plants changing to biomass can increase issues with fouling, which are now being tackled by a new technology

Rethinking cleaning


Online Offline Online Offline

ver the past few years, there has been an enormous change in the power sector. Renewables have grown in popularity in the UK, with wind farms and solar panels appearing and biomass replacing that old stalwart coal. Biomass (waste wood, wood pellets, Online wood chips, and straw) is Offline making a big impact on the Online market, both domestically Offline and on an industrial scale. The various subsidies are obviously a strong incentive, but businesses and environmentalists find low carbon footprints appealing. There are, however, a number of issues facing operators. Boiler fouling is a real issue and affects plant performance. Boiler tube bundles that are heavily fouled will compromise generating capacity due to poor heat exchange and high pressure drop resulting in a significant drop in revenue. With extreme fouling, plants may even need to be taken offline. Change of fuel, especially to biomass, can exacerbate fouling problems and installed equipment, such as rappers or soot blowers, may not be up to the task of keeping the gas path free and ensuring good heat transfer. A newer, detonative clean technology has been developed to assist plants in remaining online whilst cleaning takes place or by reducing the amount of time needed to be offline

days hours On-Load 8000 Boiler Cleaning 4 hours 96 days Cool down 48 On-Load 8000 shutdowns 616 Boiler Cleaning 4 96 (see table 1). Bang&Clean Cool down 48 can be applied when the 0.8105263 shutdowns 616

plant is still online. 0.8105263 Working at temperatures of up to 1,000°C, the team inserts a lance into the boiler and a water cooled bag is filled with a mixture of ethane and oxygen. This bag is detonated near the tube days hours bundles, On-Load sending a pressure8000 On-load Boiler Cleaning 4 hours 96 days wave throughout the boiler. Cool down 48 On-Load 8000 This pressure wave causes shutdowns 21 616 On-load Boiler Cleaning 4 96 theCool down tubes of the boiler 48 0.9277108 616 to shutdowns oscillate, cracking21and dislodging the fouling. 0.9277108 Repetition then removes the material completely. Most boilers can be cleaned within a 12-hour shift, and the plant availability is maintained and the many

shutdowns, 616

Yearly Availability Without Pre-Shutdown Clean

On-Load, 8000

shutdowns, 616

Off-Load, [VALUE] Off-Load, [VALUE] Boiler Cleaning, 96 Cool down, 48 Boiler Cleaning, 96 Cool down, 48

Yearly Availability With Pre-Shutdown Clean On-Load, 8000

Yearly Availability With Pre-Shutdown Clean On-load Boiler Cleaning, 96

On-Load, 8000

shutdowns, 616 shutdowns, 616

On-load Boiler Cleaning, 96 Off-Load, [VALUE] Off-Load, [VALUE] Cool down, 48 Cool down, 48

Table 2: Detonative cleaning’s effects on plant downtime

Putting the lance into the boiler

costs associated with shutdowns can be avoided. There are many advantages to this system, the most obvious being that the plant does not need to shut down.

Table 1: Impact of detonative cleaning in the UK EFW industry

2004 2014

Use of detonation clean



Running time

4,000 or less

Most 8,000 KRR Business Analysis 2015

46 • May/June 2016

Yearly Availability Without Pre-Shutdown Clean

On-Load, 8000

The ash falls into the ash hoppers, from where it is removed using the plant’s standard ash management system. Generation is unaffected and processing capacity continues unabated, which is good news for the plant’s finances (see table 2). When plants plan shutdowns, they certainly want to minimise downtime. Safety of staff is also of

critical importance. By using Bang&Clean, the boiler can be cleaned and rendered safe whilst still hot. Cleaning not only prepares the boiler for the final job of grit blasting, making that job quicker and more effective, but also controls the risk of overhanging debris causing injury. Pressure to source cheaper fuel has resulted in increased fouling. With this fouling comes reduced boiler efficiency and the increased likelihood of the boiler being shut down due to increased pressure drops. Detonative cleaning has allowed boilers to be run for longer, while burning lower grade fuel, without the need for frequent shutdowns to clean the tube bundles. l For more information:

This article was written by George Pawson, technical manager at KRR ProStream. Visit:

Bioenergy Insight

biomass boilers Bioenergy Renewable energy incentives and volatile fossil fuel prices are motivating many plants to seek out ways to increase in-house power generation from their biomass boilers

Biomass boiler upgrades to boost power generation Boiler A


ost energy intensive manufacturing facilities that use large amounts of steam and power (e.g., pulp, forest, and food products plants) operate industrial boilers to provide low-pressure saturated steam (typically at between 345kPa and 1380kPa) for the manufacturing process. By first generating superheated steam at high temperature and pressure and passing the steam through either back pressure or condensing/ extraction steam turbine generators, a significant amount of electrical power can be generated while still meeting the plant’s demand for lowpressure process steam. In-house power generation offsets the cost of purchasing electricity. These industrial boilers typically burn a variety of fuels, including pulping residues (black or red liquor, containing spent pulping chemicals), fossil fuels (coal, fuel oil, natural gas), biomass fuels (sawdust, bark, hogged fuel, clarifier sludge, bagasse or other agricultural byproducts, etc.), and/or waste fuels (tire derived fuel (TDF), construction and demolition debris, municipal solid waste, refuse derived fuel, etc.). Fluctuating fossil fuel prices, renewable energy incentives, and mounting environmental pressures to reduce airborne emissions have caused many plants to shift their fuel consumption away from fossil fuels toward

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burning increased amounts of renewable biomass fuels. Often, upgrades to the combustion air and fuel delivery systems are required to maximise the burning of biomass. While these efforts can help relieve the burden of volatile fossil fuel prices, they do not necessarily help curtail the cost of electricity purchase. This has led many plants to pursue options to maximise in-house power generation and reduce the amount of purchased electricity, or even generate extra electricity to sell — often at a premium price as renewable energy. Boiler modifications are often necessary to achieve increased power generation, by raising the temperature and/or pressure of the steam, and/or by optimising steam production. A number of tools are available to help powerhouse engineers calculate the increase in power generation from changes in steam pressure and temperature and the boiler efficiency improvements to expect by reducing the flue gas exit temperature. Boiler projects It can be useful to analyse examples of successful boiler upgrade projects for those considering steps to increase in-house power generation from biomass-fired boilers. In all, six relevant boiler upgrade projects, which were successfully implemented within the last decade are described below. Each

New superheater pendants arrive at plant belonging to ‘Boiler A’

example is for a boiler of different capacity and original equipment manufacturer, and specific project goals.

Boiler A Objectives: In support of a cogeneration project and an efficiency improvement initiative, this Foster Wheeler boiler required improvements in biomass combustion to increase steam generation from 120 t/hr to 160 t/hr. In addition to requiring a significant reduction in excess air, an increase in the final steam temperature from a typical value of 368°C to 400°C over a wide range of steaming rates was required. Reductions in ash and char carryover were also desired to support particulate matter (PM) emissions control. Scope: The upgrade work included installation of a new Overfire Air (OFA) system,

replacement of the existing secondary superheater (to convert saturated, wet steam into dry steam at high temperature) with a larger unit (approximately three-times larger), and an upgrade of the wet scrubber for improved PM control. In addition, a variable frequency drive (VFD) was installed on the existing OFA booster fan to reduce parasitic load in the boiler house (annual savings of nearly 1,000MWh).

Boiler B Objectives: This plant made modifications to their Riley Stoker biomassfired boiler in support of a newly installed 55MW cogeneration facility. Both an increase in steaming rate (from 100 t/hr to 154 t/hr) and steam pressure and temperature (from 2930kPa and 371°C to 6067kPa and 440°C) from the boiler were required to meet the conditions for a new condensing steam turbine generator.

May/June 2016 • 47

Boiler B Boiler B

Bioenergy biomass boilers

(Pictured left) CAD drawing of new superheater section for ‘Boiler B’

Scope: The scope of work to achieve the project goals was wideranging. Boiler work included a superheater upgrade, consisting of new secondary superheater headers and new pendants (the unit had no secondary superheater originally), new steam supply piping Boiler from the D primary superheater, inter-stage steam attemperator [controls steam temperature], sweetwater condenser, and support hangers. An economizer, to increase thermal efficiency, was added and the tubular air heater surface area was reduced. A new OFA system was installed along with modifications to the fuel feed bin to prevent bridging.

near its maximum continuous rating (MCR) of 227 t/hr, with 4000kPa and 454°C steam conditions. In order to satisfy the steam conditions of a new steam turbine generator, the steam conditions needed to be changed to 8618kPa and 510°C. In addition, corrosion from the burning of old cardboard containers (OCC) rejects in the boiler had caused severe tube wastage in the secondary superheater. Boiler D


New primary and secondary superheater sections were designed and installed. The secondary superheater design included additional surface area to accommodate the higher steam temperature demand. Portions of the secondary section included alloy 625 weld overlay for corrosion resistance and the wall thickness was increased to provide greater corrosion allowance.

Scope: The entire primary and secondary superheater sections were replaced with a new design. The superheater surface area was increased by more than a factor of two and the tube metallurgy was upgraded. New support structural steel was also designed and supplied to carry the significantly increased assembly weights.

Boiler D

Objectives: The purpose of this upgrade was to increase the overall power cycle efficiency of the plant. The target was to increase the steam temperature from 421°C to 454°C over a steaming rate range of from 160 t/hr to 272 t/hr (at 5,861kPa) while firing biomass and/or fuel oil in the plant’s Erie City Iron Works boiler. The boiler’s original design steam temperature was 441°C, but it could only be sustained for a short time after a clean start-up. In addition, the plant’s plan to install a

Objectives: This Babcock & Wilcox boiler was designed to generate up to 272 t/hr of steam at 7033kPa and 441°C firing a combination of hogged wood fuel and natural gas with a side-by-side superheater arrangement. At typical steaming rates of from 100 t/hr to 190.5 t/hr, the unit was unable to achieve the design steam temperature. In addition, the plant was planning to install a feedwater heater to raise the feedwater Boiler E

Boiler E

Boiler C Objectives: Following an OFA system upgrade in 2000, this Zurn Boiler C boiler had been operating

Boiler D: (Pic left) CAD drawing of primary and secondary superheater pendants

Bolier C: (Pic right) stainless steel cladding was applied on bottom of tube loops

48 • May/June 2016

temperature to the boiler by over 44°C. Higher feedwater temperature results in higher steam generation for the same fuel heat input and causes a further lowering of the final steam temperature. The plant desired an increase in steam temperature to 496°C over the entire range of operation, from 100 t/hr to 272 t/hr while burning hogged wood fuel, TDF, cotton seed, and natural gas, for improved power generation efficiencies.

Bolier E: 3-D CAD drawing of new superheater section and headers

feedwater heater to raise the feedwater temperature by over 28°C would have caused a further lowering of the final steam temperature. Scope: A new secondary superheater that was nearly three times the size of the original design was supplied along with new inlet and outlet headers, modified steam attemperation equipment to improve steam temperature control, and new support steel.

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biomass boilers Bioenergy

Boiler F

Boiler F Objectives: This Götaverken boiler is owned by a local municipal utility and operated by a pulp mill. The unit was designed to generate 197 t/hr of steam at 454°C and 5688kPa. Severe erosion/corrosion damage was experienced in the secondary superheater and solutions were solicited. Scope: A new secondary superheater utilising 310 stainless steel tubing with increased spacing between elements and increased depth was designed and supplied. In addition, new sootblowers were added and an auxiliary steam attemperator system was provided. The design of the new superheater had to take into account the very restrictive construction access. All of these projects

Bolier F: New superheater pendant is lifted for installation in boiler

described above were successful and achieved all the performance guarantee parameters. Conclusions With fluctuating fossil fuel and electricity costs, new regulations for greenhouse gas emissions, and the emergence of renewable energy incentive programmes, more emphasis is being placed on maximising inhouse power generation from

biomass fuels in pulp, forest, and food products plants. A critical part of the overall strategy involves a detailed evaluation of the facility’s industrial boilers to determine if boiler modifications are feasible to increase in-house power generation either by optimising the use of an existing steam turbine generator or by allowing the procurement of a new steam turbine generator. Many industrial boilers in these energy intensive production facilities are designed to operate at steam pressures and temperatures that are high enough for efficient power generation, but without the presence of a steam turbine the units were therefore operated to supply process steam at far lower pressure. With relatively minor boiler modifications, boiler steam generation conditions can be tuned to the

requirements of a new steam turbine generator, resulting in a substantial increase in in-house power generation. Similar boiler modifications can also lead to better utilisation of existing steam turbine generators, increased boiler thermal efficiencies and reduced air emissions. All in all, many opportunities exist in energy intensive manufacturing facilities to increase in-house power generation and reduce operating costs by optimising boiler steam conditions, switching to more biomass fuel burning, and improving the efficient removal of heat from the boiler flue gases. l

For more information:

This article was written by Arie Verloop, VP at Jansen Combustion and Boiler Technologies and Samit Pethe, senior process engineer at Jansen. Visit:

Aalborg Energie Technik a/s AET is a leading independent engineering and contracting company which design, deliver, service, operate and retrofit biomass fired plants in the size from 25 -to 170 MWth. Our plants are characterised by exceptionally high boiler and plant efficiency, high availability, high fuel flexibility and low emissions.

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Bioenergy Insight

May/June 2016 • 49

Bioenergy biomass boilers Vintage biomass boilers can reach higher operating efficiencies by making better use of their heat output

Obtaining environmental compliance with existing assets


he industrial biomass-fired boiler market has a number of mature installations from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. New or impending environmental legislation and rules are forcing these 20- and 40-year-old facilities to evaluate their operations for both efficiency and environmental compliance. Nations throughout the world have or are currently developing a number of new regulations for biomass thermal energy steam generators. Common for most of these new regulations are reductions in carbon monoxide (CO). The historically higher fuel moistures of biomasses most often lend to an increase in CO emissions as related to other solid or liquid fuels. CO is an easily measured gaseous emission and often considered to be a direct surrogate pertaining to combustion efficiencies and flue gas constituents such as volatile organic compounds (VOC) or total organic carbon (TOC). Content of flue gas oxygen (O2), measured in percentage concentration most often directly relates with CO production and, more importantly, is a measured value for most existing installations. Besides its correlation with CO production, it is often a process control value for automatic control systems. Establishing the range of O2 and the best corresponding operating CO range is dependent on several factors, with the most important being the fuel, regardless of the combustion system technology. Fuel moisture alone does not solely signify or predict CO production.

Figure 1: Flue gas oxygen vs. CO production, 50 MW biomass-fired grate system

50 • May/June 2016

Fuel consistency and particle sizing have effects on CO as well. Figure 1 illustrates the relationship of O2% in flue gas compared to CO production. Figure 1 illustrates that at lower oxygen contents there is insufficient oxygen to oxidize CO, yet at higher oxygen contents the adiabatic flame and furnace temperatures are lower, resulting in increasing CO. Typically the configuration of Figure 1 can be related to other biomass units. However, fuel types and combustion equipment can shift the curve either left or right. Regulated pollutant While CO is most commonly the emission of concern from a combustion aspect, oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are usually a regulated pollutant. CO and NOx generally demonstrate an inverse relationship to flue gas O2 concentrations. Figure 2 illustrates field data demonstrating this inverse relationship.

Figure 3: Locations of combustion and conveying air for a grate-fired combustion system

• Fuel distribution air • Fly carbon reinjection air Figure 3 illustrates these locations. The primary and secondary air provide not only the air for stoichiometric combustion air, but also the excess air. The fuel distribution and fly carbon reinjection air are simply used to provide the minimum air required for conveying of materials. Air infiltration

Figure 2: CO and NOx vs. flue gas oxygen content, 50 MW biomass-fired grate system

Biomass thermal energy combustion units are designed to provide a level of additional combustion air to provide flexibility in operation and performance. The earlier units often were designed for 30-35% excess combustion air, while newer units are designed for 20-30% excess air. The combustion air(s) and other combustion related air for grate biomass systems comes from four areas: • Primary air or under-grate air • Secondary air or overfire air

Sometimes vintage combustion systems are modified or certain maintenance practices have been avoided due to a variety of reasons. These deficiencies often relate to tramp air infiltration. These sources of infiltration are generally due to sealing problems of major equipment components in direct contact with combustion flue gases. Infiltration of ambient tramp air, particularly before the measurement of flue gas O2 concentration, relate to an erroneous reading of actual O2 concentration. Therefore, to reduce O2 concentrations, the combustion air(s) have to be reduced. Tramp air is uncontrollable unless eliminated. Also, the additional amount of tramp air infiltration increases the volume of flue gas and therefore pressure drops through a steam generator combustor, often leading to performance reduction of the air pollution control (APC) systems and the induced draft fan. An example of the effect of tramp air

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biomass boilers Bioenergy infiltration was found during a combustion study on a 70 tonne steam/hr biomass boiler originally constructed in 1977. The unit was having difficulties reaching full steam load capacity due to overloading the induced draft fan. Figure 4 illustrates the flue gas oxygen concentration through steam load changes.

Figure 4: Steam load vs. flue gas oxygen concentrations

Figure 4 shows that as steam load increases, the oxygen content had to be dropped to maintain capacity of the induced draft fan. When approaching 70 tonne steam/hr, the flue gas concentration dropped below 3%. In order to obtain that value, the induced draft fan was at maximum flow and pressure conditions and both the primary and secondary air systems were lowered significantly. As a result of a combustion study the installation was refurbished with the primary goal of mitigating tramp air. This included installation of new seals/ expansion joints, rebuilding the entire grate system with new components, verifying instruments with a review of combustion control system and adding additional secondary air capacity. Figure 5 illustrates the resulting CO concentrations and flue gas oxygen levels for the unit during the initial baseline testing and after the refurbishment of the unit.

repeatable and CO production was a fraction of the baseline data. The major sources of tramp air egress are typically easy to visually identify. Air control The concept of controlling and maintaining excess air quantities is not a new idea. However, up until recently, it was a concept that owners evaluated based on their specific operational needs. We are now seeing requirements for boiler/ combustion tune-ups tied to environmental requirements. In some cases the operating and environmental permits have provisions for annual, three-, or five-year tune-up requirements. The guidance for some of these tune-ups is based on the idea of operating at design excess air. Key to improvements in excess air control is the measurement of flue gas oxygen. There are vast quantities of flue gas analyser manufacturers with equipment available for a near infinite number of applications. Most of the existing biomass boiler installations in North America and Europe are equipped with at least one flue gas oxygen analyser. For control purposes these are located at the steam generatorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s outlet or possibly after an economiser, directly at the centreline of the flue gas ducting. We are now seeing clients install additional analysers for operators to evaluate oxygen stratifications across the width of the combustor. At the very least three analysers are recommended to evaluate left hand, right hand, and centre flue gas oxygen concentrations. Ideally, boiler outlet analysers centred over fuel delivery/distribution equipment or centred over primary air zones are extremely helpful. This assists operators in better understanding of any imbalances in fuel delivery or balancing combustion air for better overall combustion in the lower furnace of the boiler. Figure 7 illustrates a boiler having eight individual taps installed at the boiler outlet, one in line with each of the fuel distributors.

Figure 5: Steam load vs. flue gas oxygen and CO concentrations

Figure 5 demonstrates that by the reduction of tramp air infiltration the induced draft fan was able to operate in a controllable range, without problems. Operating flue gas oxygen content was controllable and

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The owner could not easily justify the expense for having eight flue gas oxygen analysers, but did install the taps so that a portable analyser could be used to troubleshoot potential difficulties. Figure 8 notes actual field data of initial results based on high overall CO measured at the stack. From Figure 8, we see an imbalance in CO over the left hand fuel distributors. This provides operators with a tool to better match the fuel and combustion air(s). Initial site evaluation and establishment of combustion conditions for existing biomass boilers is required to establish the ability to operate within compliance and with best efficiencies possible. These evaluations are also invaluable to inform owners of what changes or improvements might be necessary to continue operating with future compliance regulations and rules.

Figure 8: Results of portable analyser during width-wise traverse of boiler outlet

Reduction of tramp air and operating effectively at reduced or design excess air is a direct method of improving overall thermal efficiency of the boiler. In general terms, operating at 1% less flue gas oxygen content equates to nearly a 1% improvement in overall thermal efficiency. This can be equated to measureable values of heat losses, such as carbon loss in ash, un-burned fuel (CO), and heat loss as measured at the exhaust stack. For vintage boilers, operating at original design or even reduced excess air values can provide for repair and annual maintenance cost payback simply from lesser fuel costs due to increased efficiency. Other than losses due to radiation, resulting from missing insulation and lagging, control and reduction of operating excess air values is often the best method to improve overall thermal efficiency. l

For more information: Figure 7: Boiler outlet taps for flue gas sampling

This article was written by Bob Morrow, senior technical manager at Detroit Stoker Co. Visit:

May/June 2016 â&#x20AC;˘ 51



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gasification Bioenergy When a Scottish farm needed to expand its renewable portfolio for its site in Dundee, the company turned to a German gasification specialist

Farm power


S Baird is a familyrun farm of mixed arable, livestock, broiler chickens and laying hens set over 600 acres. The farm produces eggs, wheat, lamb, beef, and wheat. With a history of diversification and innovation the farm is attempting to bridge the gap between farming and energy. The farming specialist needed to obtain gasification technology in order to go green and reduce its heating costs. Gas produced from wood has been used for many years in small-scale installations as a substitute for petrol. The great advantage of gasification is that instead of burning wood chips in a biomass burner, the gasifier converts the wood chip into syngas, which is then used to drive a combined heat and power (CHP) facility. JS Baird strives to transform waste wood into a valuable fossil fuel substitute that can be used within gasification plants to create energy. So when it came to selecting new technology for its Dundee operation, JS Baird needed a robust gasification system which could consistently and cost effectively produce gas for heat. Contacting the expert Familiar with the gasification

technology of Germanyheadquarted Spanner — and aware of the company’s reputation in this complex field — JS Baird began to investigate whether the team could help. As conversations unfolded, JS Baird soon realised that Spanner could take care of its problem. Intrigued by Spanner’s proposals, JS Baird staff travelled to the team’s German headquarters to try out five of its gasification installations. This demonstration day proved that Spanner’s technology could fulfil JS Baird’s requirements which, coupled with the German company’s reputation for gasification technology, confirmed this solution was the right decision for the family-run farm. Thereafter a team of Spanner’s engineers installed the entire gasification system. Spanner produces two principle units, a 30kW electrical output system and a 45kW electrical output system. For JS Baird, one unit was sufficient to provide all the electricity required on the farm including a 25,000 broiler shed, a 200-tonne grain drying unit, and one eight-bedroom house. The construction of the installation area had to be a perfect combination of high insulation and good ventilation. The units are

The CHP engine used in the gasification process

Bioenergy Insight

The Spanner gasifier used by JS Baird

located separately with the gasifier “pallet” located in the “hot room” and the engine generator CHP installed in the “cool room”. A simple climate control computer operates the single fan ventilation. This is also connected to the carbon monoxide monitoring equipment which ensures the unit is operated in a safe environment. There is also an external emergency switch, warning horn and automatic shutdown. The unit is not just a simple on and off system — it requires an understanding of the process from chip store to filtration to engine running. A cold start needs the gas flared, to allow the system to heat up without sending cold gas into the engine. After some alterations to the wiring and temperature sensors, the

units are switched on and rise immediately to full output. JS Baird and Sons took the simple option to buy timber and hire a chipper to create the fuel. This process is important as the quality and moisture content of the chip is paramount to reliable running. Payback In the current climate of low arable prices, an installation like this can go a long way to securing the future of a farming enterprise with the holy trinity of low-carbon energy, diversification, and profitability. l For more information:

This article was written by Michael Westermaier, sales manager at Spanner Holtz-Kraft. Visit:

May/June 2016 • 53

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technology Bioenergy A new waste-to-energy plant being built in the UK utilises cutting-edge technology to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient

From trash to treasures


or more than a decade, Dong Energy has been active in the UK offshore wind sector, providing increasing amounts of renewable energy for the UK, investing billions of pounds and employing a growing workforce. Due to this, it is fair to say that more people associate Dong with wind turbines than waste. Yet the company is now expanding its operations into other forms of green energy and using its knowledge, skills, and experience to deliver new environmentally friendly solutions. Wind and waste have much more in common than one might think as well. Both can be used to generate the electricity that supplies power to our businesses, and light and warmth to our homes. This year has marked a significant milestone for the company as Dong is making its entry into the UK’s waste and resources market for the first time. It is an exciting development for the business, but it also occurs at an exciting moment for

the industry as innovations in waste disposal, recycling, and resource recovery are putting the UK on a path to a more sustainable future. Dong is preparing to play its part in this movement towards greener waste management by building the world’s first commercial full-scale bioplant in Northwich, Cheshire. The plant will receive unsorted household waste, which — through enzyme treatment — will be converted into biogas and green electricity as well as recyclable plastics and metals. Dong will finance, build, and operate the plant, which will be operational in 2017. Around 150 people will be involved during the peak phase of construction, with an average of 75 at any given time. The plant will also require around 24 full-time local employees to operate it. The technology The new technology that will be used at the site is called REnescience. It is a safe, reliable technology, which

Dong’s test plant in Copenhagen uses the same technology

Bioenergy Insight

An artist’s impression of Dong’s new facility in Northwich

has been working since 2009 at a demonstration plant in Copenhagen, Denmark. Importantly, it does not involve incineration, pyrolysis, gasification, or advanced thermal treatment. REnescience Northwich will have an annual capacity of 120,000 tonnes of waste, which is roughly equivalent to the waste produced by 110,000 UK households. Waste will be supplied by the UK waste management company FCC Environment, which already collects household waste in the Northwich region. When the residual waste arrives at the Northwich plant it will, without pre-sorting, be treated with enzymes and warm water so that more of the recyclable material and other resources can be extracted from it. When compared to most traditional waste treatment processes, REnescience is capable of a higher capture rate of organic materials. Further, and perhaps more importantly, it almost entirely eliminates the amount of waste that eventually goes to landfill. The gas engines at the plant will each have an electrical generator, and together will produce between 5 and 6MW of electricity. A small amount

of this will be used to power the facility itself, but around 5MW, which is enough to power approximately 9,500 households, will flow into the national electricity grid for use by consumers and industrial users. Generating the same amount of electricity in a modern gas-fired power station, for example, would release 15,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Heat from the gas engines will also be used on-site to maintain the required temperature for the REnescience bioreactors and to heat the buildings on-site where needed. This helps to make the facility more energy efficient, since it uses the heat from the engines rather than using fresh fuel to create heat. Not only is this plant an example of cutting edge green engineering, but it also demonstrates that the UK is once again leading the way in renewable energy. Construction at the site is underway and Dong is looking forward to a fully operational plant next year. l For more information:

This article was written by Flemming Ravnholt Kanstrup, project director for REnescience Northwich. Visit:

May/June 2016 • 55

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combined heat and power Bioenergy CHP systems are one of the few circular economy technologies already delivering commercially, contributing to a wide variety of business sectors by reducing both their costs and their environmental impact

Powering ahead


n this day and age there is a need to look at alternative ways to create much needed low carbon and renewable energy. It is only in the past few years that the opportunities from biogas have become more apparent to a broader audience. Looking at the massive potential of it, it becomes clear it is a valuable fuel for the creation of renewable energy for now and in the future. Deploying it as a fuel has multiple advantages, such as the creation of power, using waste products in a beneficial way, while at the same time decreasing carbon emissions. Biogas is created by the decomposition of waste through the process of anaerobic digestion (AD). Waste is macerated, liquidised and pumped into a digester, where in the absence of oxygen it will be fed to microorganisms. During this process biogas containing methane is created, which can be a valuable fuel when captured and used in a gas-fuelled engine. A high quality fertiliser is an additional product from the digester that can be used by farmers on their fields. There are ways to improve the energy efficiency of these gas-fuelled power plants, which on its turn has a more beneficial effect on the environment. In a combined heat and power (CHP) configuration the heat, as well as the electricity created, will be used for warming of the digesters and pasteurisation of the solid material. This process will increase the energy efficiency on-site and while decreasing carbon emissions, it will also reduce onsite power requirements.

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This type of configuration is the status quo, as it makes efficient use of heat for local applications and, if all heat is used from the jacket water (cooling water circuit of the engine) and exhaust gas, is the most fuel-efficient use of the biogas even when compared to biogas upgrading. Additional uses of the heat can include district heating schemes, drying of digestate or grain, or generating additional electricity through organic rankine cycle technology This of course is the general explanation of how CHP works, but there are different applications and kinds of waste that could be used to create biogas. In the end they have the same result, creating valuable and renewable power. Agricultural biogas Agricultural biogas plants use organic materials that are found on farms. The typical crops that are used to create biogas are maize, grass, wheat, rye, and triticale. Slurry, manure, and vegetable waste can be used as well. These crops are mostly ensilaged to be gradually used to feed the biogas engine through the year. A good example to demonstrate this application would be Agri-Gen, a joined venture between farmers that have together built AD plants to create the power on-site and use their agricultural waste. Clarke Energy has supplied and commissioned one 3MW engine at this site in 2013. The facilityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s digesters hold energy crops such as root vegetables to produce biogas and provide sustainable

power to the surrounding area. The jacket water from the gas engine was used to heat the anaerobic digesters. However, there was no immediate local use for the exhaust heat, which was vented into atmosphere. Agri-Gen saw the potential of this heat for the creation of additional power and had two CleanCycle units installed. The heat conversion process, known as Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC), uses an organic working fluid and a small generator to turn the waste heat from the gas engine into additional electrical energy. In the new configuration jacket water heat from the gas engine is used to heat the digesters and in parallel preheat the CleanCycle working fluid. The ORC units operate in a closed loop and there is no waste or emissions from the system. The units will initially create an additional 228kW that will be sold to the grid. Food waste digestion The treatment and disposal of food waste is often a challenge. There are big food processing factories that are left behind with large amounts of waste that is now still disposed at landfill sites where it has no use. Waste that is dumped at landfill sites will be rotting away where it will create methane. When methane is vented into the atmosphere it is 21 times more potent than greenhouse gas. Better to use it then. There is huge potential in the use of food waste to create sustainable and cheaper power. In the same way as agricultural waste is going through the process

of anaerobic digestion, food waste can be placed in digesters as well. Saria, previously PDM Group, for instance has seen the potential of food waste. At its ReFood AD plant in Doncaster, renewable energy is created. The company has a specialised recycling and collecting service to pick up the waste for power generation purposes. It offers all businesses across the food chain, from large food processing facilities to small chip shops, to pick up and recycle their leftover food. The plant has the ability to recycle over 45,000 tonnes of food waste each year. Saria generates electricity for the local area while leftover steam will be used for the on-site processes. Heat recovery for industrial facilities could be beneficial for a lot of companies. Clarke Energy has installed four gasfuelled power plants at this location, together creating 4.9MW, which is the equivalent of powering more than over 12,800 households. This again shows the possibilities of using biogas as a renewable fuel for electricity, as well as the heat. Sewage gas Sewage waste treatment plants have always had high energy costs due to their energy-intensive operations. Wastewater professionals therefore also saw their energy costs rising in the last couple of years and had to look into alternative ways to create the much needed demand for power. For these kinds of plants it would be of high interest to invest in anaerobic digestion, including combined

May/June 2016 â&#x20AC;˘ 57

Bioenergy combined heat and power for an entire nearby village. The site generates 17.3MW of power, which would be the equivalent of powering more than 40,000 French homes. The electricity in this case is sold to the grid but the heating is used for the district heating scheme from the village. Marrying biomethane and industrial CHP

Sewage treatment plants are planning to invest in anaerobic digestion including combined heat and power processes to reduce energy costs

heat and power processes, to reduce energy costs. The benefits of CHP are also applicable for the use of sewage gas. These include the decrease of carbon emissions, lower electricity bills, and higher energy efficiency on site. To become renewable power, certain steps need to be undertaken. The wastewater needs to be prepared before going into the digesters. Physical contaminants need to be removed. The sludge that is left after this treatment will go into the digesters to be turned into sewage gas. The conversion into electricity and heat is the next phase of the process. The digestate that is left behind in the digesters will be treated before being used as a high quality fertiliser. The heat from the CHP units can also support advanced digestion technologies requiring higher levels of heat for optimum destruction of bacteria. The Davyhulme Waste Water Plant in Greater Manchester United Utilities is generating renewable energy from sewage gas. The produced energy is used to power the local plant and provide high levels of energy efficiency

58 â&#x20AC;˘ May/June 2016

through embedded generation. United Utilities has invested ÂŁ100 million (â&#x201A;Ź126.9m) on the programme that leaves the sludge behind. A total of 12MW is being generated at the plant which enables it to create power enough for

methane and use it for power generation. This gas is called landfill gas and thus can also be used as a renewable fuel. The gas must be extracted under controlled conditions. Tubes that are perforated are drilled into the landfill

The applications of biogas show that there are more ways in creating renewable energy, than there were ever before 10,000 typical UK homes. The heat that comes from the combined heat and power plant is used to keep the digesters at the right temperature for the microorganisms to do their job. Landfill gas Large amounts of municipal, commercial and industrial waste is still dumped at landfill sites. When rotting in the absence of oxygen, and at a depth of circa 10m, it is actually creating biogas on its own. When the methane is not captured, it will have a big impact on the environment. But there are possibilities to capture the

site and by using a blower, the landfill gas can be captured. The opportunities of extracting the gas from landfill sites go way further than just powering the site itself. This has been proven in France where the Plessis Gassot landfill site, operated by Veolia, generates heat

2016 has seen the start of a highly novel cross border project in Ireland. Biogas is to be generated at an agricultural anaerobic digester in the Republic of Ireland. The biogas is being compressed to biomethane and moved to Northern Ireland by road, via a so-called virtual gas pipeline. Here, at a series of four industrial facilities, the biomethane is being used for an industrial CHP application, maximising the energy potential of the biogas and in turn generating highvalue ROCS for the customer. The applications of biogas show that there are more ways to generate renewable energy than there were ever before. As more countries are looking into alternative ways of creating power, biogas seems to be part of the answer. It is just a matter of making people realise what the benefits are from this valuable fuel and taking them onboard to invest in them. l

For more information:

This article was written by Alex Marshall, group marketing and compliance manager at Clarke Energy. Visit:

Gas captured from landfill sites can be used for energy

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The Axtor features newly developed freeswinging teeth

Bioenergy shredders One shredding specialist is producing innovative technology to ensure that wood waste is fit for biopower production

Unlocking waste wood potential


n waste management systems, waste wood is collected separately for subsequent material or thermal use. The term “waste wood” covers materials with very different qualities. Distinctions can be defined by legal, material-related or process-related criteria. In Austria, most waste wood streams count legally as waste. Processing-related parameters for quality assessment include material content, particle size distribution and contrary content. Contraries are items that can interfere with processing operations, such as pieces of metal. The great majority of reclaimed waste wood is used for chipboard manufacture. A smaller amount is used as fuel for industrial power plants. The cascading use of waste wood results in a division of material from processing to reclamation to thermal use. The first step is always a size reduction and homogenisation by shredding. For example, construction and demolition wood is first coarsely chipped and the ferrous metal removed. Further processing steps

60 • May/June 2016

in chipboard manufacture remove non-ferrous metals, fines and mineral items, and use the remaining wood fraction to make fibreboard. Shredding waste wood that has not been pre-broken up is a challenge for any fast chipper. The less pre-sorted it is, the higher the danger of massive metal contraries. Following processing of the waste wood, the material

What technologies

are best? The technology for the mechanical preparation of waste wood for material reclamation comprises: • Pre-shredding (particles size up to 15 cm) • Fine-shredding (to a defined particle size of a few millimetres) • Multiple magnetic separation • Multiple screening • Multiple wind sifting • Multiple eddy current nonferrous metal separation

composition and its geometric shape make it suitable for chipboard manufacture. The material can be dried and stored preparatory to use. The first two or three steps can be done with mobile or stationary machines.The remaining processing steps are done on stationary machines. Komptech’s focus is on preshredding and the company provides high-speed and lowspeed shredders for this task. Challenges Low-speed machines have tooth speeds under 5 metres per second (m/s), while high speed shredders go up to 55 m/s. Tooth mountings can be free-swinging or fixed. Contamination by contraries makes protective features necessary in order to prevent tooth destruction. For example, a hydraulic drive low-speed shredder can tolerate blockages, while shear bolts on the screen baskets of high-speed chippers can fling out hard items before they do damage in the chipping box. Single or dual-shaft shredders are used for

pre-shredding wood waste. Single-stage shredding is often the preferred method for keeping costs and logistics effort down. High-speed shredders are used for this, although contraries result in high maintenance costs. Operating costs are also determined by energy and maintenance costs. Here is where low-speed shredders with magnetic separation, screening and oversize recirculation have an advantage. A low degree of shredding also has a positive effect on the material quality for reclamation purposes, since there are fewer fines to separate out downstream. Maintenance costs can be further reduced with multistage processing to get rid of contraries before a second shredding step. Waste wood material reclamation is becoming more and more important and so are the shredders that shred them. But which machine does it most efficiently? To find out, Komptech held an in-house competition between its three key products — the Axtor, the Terminator and the Crambo.

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shredders Bioenergy Picture the scene — July 2015 at Rieger, an Austrian based waste wood collector, needs a waste wood shredder at its processing plant A CRAMBO 6200 is running at full

speed, fed by an orange-peel grab. The shredder drums chew their way through the material coming in, while a neverending stream of shredded wood goes out to a Multistar L3 — a biomass screener. Under each star screen discharge conveyor is a container which is carefully weighed after each test run. Engine data and screening analyses of the material streams complete the benchmark test of a fast chipper and two low-speed shredders. Valuable material The three machines went through a scenario that is a daily routine at the site. Waste wood arriving at the site was separated into different categories, shredded, and cleared of magnetic contraries as far as possible. The resulting shred is a useful raw material. For example, it can be used to make chipboard. Businesses are increasingly using more recycled wood to make chipboard instead of virgin wood. In this test, the ability of the machines to deliver a homogeneous grain from 20 to 130 mm was compared. A Multistar L3 was set up to separate this fraction out as the medium fraction. First screen, then shred Preliminary testing showed that two-stage processing has advantages when shredding large quantities over long periods. It’s better to shred a little coarser, screen out the overs [oversized particles] and run them back through the shredder, than to restrict the machine’s throughput with a very fine screen basket. But which technology, which screen baskets and which teeth are the most efficient? At the end of the day, what counts is the overall balance of useful fraction versus energy used. And — is the process practical in extended use? The Axtor The less pre-sorted a waste wood pile is, the higher the danger of massive metal contamination. The magnetic junk pulled out by the overbelt magnet included nails, bolts and a car wheel. The Axtor features newly developed free-swinging teeth, and stands up relatively well to these contraries. But long-term, these items are going to mean more wear and higher

Bioenergy Insight

The low-speed Crambo (pictured above) will always tend to produce less fines than the Axtor

risk of damage from a large contrary. So in continued operation a procedure needs to be in place that makes sure the input material contains no large ferrous items. On the positive side, the Axtor delivers high throughput with large screen baskets, and a low percentage of overs. With the 150 mm screen basket it made over 30 tonnes, of which more than 70% was usable fraction and only 1-2% was overs. Energy efficiency was also good, with almost half a tonne of useful fraction per litre diesel fuel used — in terms of volume, that’s about two and a half cubic metres. The Terminator The Terminator was set up for the test with the XXF shredding unit. XXF stands for “extra extra fine,” and sure enough, it didn’t turn out much in the way of overs. The Terminator also created less dust than the fast chipper, and less fines. Another advantage is its insensitivity to metal contraries, so it can shred very contaminated input. But in terms of specific fuel consumption the Terminator couldn’t quite keep up — fast chippers like the Axtor, and the low-speed Crambo dual-shaft shredder, do better in this area. That’s really no surprise, since the Terminator was designed as an allpurpose shredder. It can do waste wood, but its real strength is in mixed use. The Crambo The Crambo direct was the last machine tested. It’s no secret that it is suitable for shredding all kinds of waste wood. And the mechanical direct drive is

known to save fuel. But what screen basket gives the highest efficiency? The low-speed Crambo will always tend to produce less fines than the Axtor. But the screen basket used makes a big difference — smaller screen baskets mean less overs and more fines, and vice-versa for large baskets. Throughput is much higher with large screen baskets, and the largest size tested turned out to be the most efficient, as compared with the other screen baskets and also the other machines. Result: More than 700 kg usable fraction with a litre of diesel fuel. Even if you count the effort to reshred the overs that go back into the input, the Crambo with 250 screen basket still comes out ahead. Heavy duty outfit Even with high amounts of ferrous metal, up to 2.5% by weight in the processed material, the Crambo can still stand up to extended usage. The heavy duty version has armoured tooth mountings, wear plates on the drum, and screen baskets that are twice as strong. Another option is a special tooth design for waste wood that gives up to 1000 operating hours. Naturally this comparison test cannot answer every question. The material requirements, available space and logistic situation differ from user to user, and other processes often have their place. But we consider the fact that many customers have set up similar processes at their sites to be a confirmation that our results are sound. l For more information:

This article was written by Andreas Kunter, graduate engineer at Komptech. Visit:

May/June 2016 • 61

Bioenergy briquetting Solid recovered fuel offers new possibilities for fuel briquette manufacturers

Briquetting solid waste


he European Waste Directive set targets for each EU member country to reduce the mass of waste consigned to landfill. Encouraged by regulation and the landfill tax, UK waste producers and processors were motivated to “reduce, reuse, and recycle”. Processing technology has enabled waste pre-treatment and recovery of aggregates, glass, metals, plastic, paper, and cardboard. The three R’s were extended to include “recovery” — namely energy recovery by incineration of the residual waste, but UK waste processors are at a disadvantage as there are insufficient local incinerators. The alternative was the growing demand for refusederived fuel (RDF) from UK’s European and Scandinavian neighbours, who embraced RDF as a reliable source of green energy and revenue. RDF is

made from domestic waste which includes biodegradable material as well as plastics, and has a lower calorific value than solid recovered fuel (SRF). RDF is used in energy-from-waste plants. SRF is a refined form of RDF. Multiple investments throughout northern Europe created an overcapacity of combined heat and power (CHP) plants but a shortage of reliable fuel. This is the reason why UK waste processors have found a ready market for around 2 million tonnes of RDF at a cost of upwards of £60 (€77) per tonne. There has been an increased focus in using secondary biomass for energy. This is because the UK has renewable energy targets to meet and the use of RDF/SRF, although not wholly renewable, can contribute to these targets. In fact, the UK has to obtain 15% of its energy from

CF Nielsen’s Star Press – one machine with nine briquetting lines

renewable sources by 2020. In 2011 the UK government introduced an environmental programme to provide financial incentives to increase the uptake of renewable heat. This is called the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). It provides financial support to non-domestic renewable heat generators and producers of biomethane. Only municipal solid waste (MSW), including SRF with less than 10% fossil fuel, and wastes which are at least 90% biomass are eligible (except for anaerobic digestion) for the subsidy. Obtaining incentives for heat increases the profitability of using secondary biomass for

non-conforming materials. Domestic general waste is best suited for waste pretreatment (recycling), with the residue forming RDF. Solid recovered fuel SRF differs from RDF in the major aspect that there is a European standard (CEN/TC 343) for it. SRF is produced from non-hazardous waste in compliance with the European standard EN 15359 and requires the producer to test the net calorific value, chlorine, and heavy metals indicated in the Industrial Emissions Directive. It is important to note that EN15359 and its underlying

There has been an increased focus in using secondary biomass for energy

A finished briquette produced from solid recovered fuel (SRF)

62 • May/June 2016

heat generation and this is helping the SRF industry. Unregulated waste producers, including domestic households, form around 40% of UK waste. Local authority guidance has encouraged householders to segregate recyclables and green waste, but the residual general domestic waste contains high levels of moisture and is invariably contaminated with

standards do not state quality levels, and it is the end user who defines the specification for density, particle size, moisture level, chemical composition, and energy content of the fuel. The principle UK users of SRF are cement manufacturers who utilise SRF as a secondary fuel and benefit from the gate fee revenue. Gate fees for SRF reflect the increased cost of

Bioenergy Insight

briquetting Bioenergy CF Nielsen’s BP3200 briquetting press - similar to the press used in the trials

processing and are generally much lower than for RDF, typically £30 per tonne. The SRF standard is more easily achieved if the source and composition of the incoming waste is known. Regulated waste producers, industrial and commercial sources, must segregate hazardous waste and accurately describe the composition of the non-hazardous waste. Thus, non-hazardous waste from regulated industrial producers is consistent, contains less moisture and contamination, and is more attractive to waste processors seeking to produce conforming SRF. SRF is produced on a just-in-time basis. Simple quality control procedures are built into the process. Pre-treated waste residue (post-recycling) is visually inspected before shredding to 200mm particle size. The material is then passed through over-band magnets, eddy current separators, and wind sifters to remove nonconforming material prior to final shredding to 20mm. It is finally passed over a grading screen to remove fines. Samples of the end product are

Bioenergy Insight

assessed for moisture content and cumulative samples sent for laboratory analysis to confirm adherence to the specification. These results can be plotted to monitor trends in the source material and even seasonal effects. The waste processor must shift the SRF quickly to the end user to minimise storage space and mitigate risk. Transport is typically by sheeted 100m3 ejection trailers filled by 10m3 bucket loader. Uncompressed, the SRF has a density of around 110-130kg/m3. Briquette manufacture trial UK energy producer Warwick Energy conducted a six-month briquetting trial using a pair of CF Nielsen BP3200 presses. CF Nielsen is a manufacturer of briquetting equipment recommended for maximum raw material moisture content of 16%. The manufacturing trial verified the optimum SRF moisture content of 14-15%, with the moisture content of finished briquettes being typically around 10%. Further tests of stored briquettes observed the moisture content continued to drop to 8%.

Warwick Energy’s test was based primarily on SRF producing briquettes with small diameters (40 mm). In general, CF Nielsen has found that SRF is a difficult raw material to densify, with higher opex and capex costs than normal biomass. It is C.F. Nielsen’s recommendation that SRF should be mixed with another raw material such as demolition wood, as this will increase the capacity of the machines and lower the costs. Increasing the diameter to 60 mm will increase capacity even more and thus result in a good investment. During the test the SRF was compressed through a die to extrude a continuous length of material. The die is smaller than the required finished diameter, as the emerging hot material expands as it exits the die. The pressure and the heat is adjusted to ensure adhesion of the particles and density of the extruded material. Typical processing temperature was 180-190°C and the extruded SRF was cooled prior to breaking to finished length. The optimum briquette length is typically three to four times the diameter.

SRF moisture is the key issue. Moisture above the stated limits invariably leads to unstable extrusion. Die wear is significantly improved when abrasive metal and aggregate fines are minimised. Consistent SRF particle size enables the breaking of regular length briquettes. A known volume of finished briquettes was weighed to determine the density. Warwick’s specification for finished briquettes was 550565kg/m3. Improvements to the wind sifter during the course of the trial contributed considerably to the production of consistent briquettes. The significant characteristics of the briquettes are the increased energy content attributable to the reduced moisture and the increased density, compared to normal SRF. Other benefits included reduced odour, assumed to be the result of the process heat eliminating bacterial activity. Briquettes exposed to the weather remained robust. When wetted, they were found to not absorb moisture and briquettes subjected to robustness test reported losses of 5%. An uncontrolled test noted negligible avian or vermin activity. The briquettes performed as predicted in the gasifier. The flow of the fuel was easy to control and the syngas generated met expectations. The briquettes remained stable following loading by 10m3 bucket, transport in 50m3 trailer, and off-loading by conveyor belt with minimal losses of fines. Although there is considerable investment in briquetting equipment and energy to produce briquettes, the outcome is a high energy, robust fuel that is readily transportable, storable, and simple to handle. l

For more information:

This article was written by Colin Smithson at Warwick Energy. Visit:

May/June 2016 • 63

Bioenergy feedstock focus: paper and pulp The rise of the digital sector is causing a decline in demand for paper, forcing some paper mills to rethink their business strategies

Charting a course towards a bio-based future


lobal challenges like climate change, resource scarcity and population growth mean companies need to learn to do more with less and use raw materials more efficiently. On top of this, pulp and paper companies face the added problem of declining paper use, resulting from a shift to digital. To tackle these issues, Stora Enso, a leading manufacturer of pulp, paper, board and wood products, is transforming into a renewable materials company. As part of a new business model, Stora Enso is channelling its extensive biomass expertise into the development of secondgeneration biochemicals and biomaterials. This will enable the company to expand its product portfolio and meet increasing demand for more sustainable products. Alongside traditional products such as Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft (NBSK) and Bleached Hardwood Kraft pulp (BHK), the manufacturer will offer bio-based products, opening up novel application opportunities in new markets. A business division focused on bio-based solutions To diversify its offering, in 2012, Stora Enso created a biomaterials division. The new business platform, based on wood and other non-food competing feedstock, works on technology development and commercialisation of lignin, as well as developing the company’s market pulp sector.

64 • May/June 2016

There are four innovation clusters within the division: 1) Pulp applications, including tissue, paper, hygiene, textile and non-woven, packaging and speciality fibres 2) Cellulose modification, lignin applications and adding value to pulp by-products, opening new markets 3) Developing the extraction technology platform to produce C5 and C6 sugars and lignin 4) Transforming sugars into value-added biobased chemicals Target markets for Stora Enso Biomaterials include pulp and cellulose, as well as intermediates for coatings and adhesives, packaging, polymers, chemicals and food ingredients. In 2016, the company’s achievements in the biomaterials sector received widespread recognition and it won Bio-Based Brand of the Year at the 11th edition of the World Bio Markets (WBM) conference.

L-R: Karl-Henrik Sundström, CEO of Stora Enso, Mikael Damberg, Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation and Juan Bueno, executive VP at Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division

L-R: Mikael Damberg, Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Heidi Saxell, R&D manager for Cellulose Conversion at Stora Enso and Sundström

Non-traditional wood products As part of Stora Enso’s efforts to use raw materials more efficiently, the company has made a number of significant technology investments. Using sustainable separation processes, the company can now extract sugars, hemicellulose, and lignin, increasing the number of useful biomass fractions that can be used compared to the pulp-making processes. In Finland, a €32 million

L-R: Stora Enso’s Sundström and Swedish minister Damreg

Bioenergy Insight

feedstock focus: paper and pulp Bioenergy investment in lignin separation technology at the Sunila Mill has enabled the company to produce dried kraft lignin since 2015. Currently, the Sunila Mill is replacing 70% of the natural gas in the lime kilns with its lignin, reducing the mill’s CO2 emissions by 27,000 tonnes per year. Bioenergy is also used at other Stora Enso mills, such as Enocell, where 85% of the fuel oil in its lime kilns has been replaced with saw dust. To expand its use beyond the lime kilns, Stora Enso Biomaterials is in the process of commercialising the Sunila Mill lignin. Although the pulp industry traditionally discarded lignin when creating paper and packaging, presuming that lignin had numerous applications but limited business opportunities, refined lignin can in fact be used as a replacement for oil-based phenolic materials. A highly aromatic structure makes

The company has made a number of significant technology investments lignin suitable for coatings and adhesives e.g. in plywood and veneer applications. Biomaterials innovation through collaboration Helping to drive innovation in the bio-based chemicals sector is the group’s Innovation Centre for biomaterials. Inaugurated at the end of 2015, the aim of the Centre is to foster greater collaboration and knowledge sharing between employees, as well as connect Stora Enso’s workforce to the latest academic and business studies. By hosting research, application, business development and strategic marketing under one roof, Stora Enso is better able to

identify new opportunities and boost its competitive offering. Around 50 people are currently employed at the Centre and recruitment for new talent is ongoing. The company expects the Centre to accommodate around 70 employees by the end of 2016. Located in Stockholm, Sweden, the Innovation Centre for biomaterials has close connections to Stora Enso’s pilot and demonstration facilities as well as other research and development areas in the company. Extracting C5 sugars

plant will convert cellulosic biomass from sugarcane bagasse into highly-refined C5 (five-carbon) sugars such as xylose — and demonstrate the extraction technology acquired from US biotechnology firm Virdia in 2014. Xylose can be transformed into xylitol, widely used in food and oral care applications. Once the technology is proven, it can be integrated into existing pulp mills. Stora Enso is a bio-based innovator with expert knowledge in the harvest, collection and conversion of biomass. There can be no doubt that it has a key role to play in the shift towards bio-based chemicals and materials and towards a more sustainable economy. l For more information:

One such demonstration facility is in Raceland, Louisiana, USA. The Raceland

This article was written by Kirsi Seppäläinen, SVP of Communications, Biomaterials at Stora Enso. Visit:

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Bioenergy event preview On 27-29 September, the European Biogas Association presents in Ghent, Belgium, its third biannual conference. During plenary and parallel sessions topics related to anaerobic digestion and gasification will be covered. One of the keynote speakers is Jyrki Katainen, VP of the European Commission.

EBA conference 2016 focuses on ‘greening gas’

The next biannual European Biogas Conference will take place in Ghent (Belgium) on 27-29 September 2016


he Conference of the European Biogas Association (EBA) is its most important event. The upcoming conference will revolve around biogas, syngas, and biomethane production, along with digestate, biorefineries, and sustainable raw materials supply. Current debates on the EU level, such as next Renewable Energy Directive and future of biowaste within the circular economy will be reflected by a line-up of high-level speakers. Speaking at the conference will be Jyrki Katainen (VP of the European Commission), Giovanni La Via (Member of the European Parliament), Professor Bruce Dale (Michigan State University), and Professor Erik Meers (University of Ghent), with many more to come. Also the future biogas and biomethane markets will be specially featured throughout the event. “This year we have the pleasure to host our event with the University of Ghent, which brings its scientific and local market expertise to the programme,” says Jan Štambaský, president at EBA. “Belgium has greatly contributed to the

66 • May/June 2016

technological development, and this is something we hope will be reflected during the conference and study tour.” Call for posters

Participants from both academia and industry are encouraged to submit their scientific posters on all conference topics, which will be on display during coffee and lunch breaks throughout the conference. Posters will be evaluated by the Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) of EBA, consisting of acknowledged experts in anaerobic digestion (AD) and gasification technologies. The submission deadline is set for 30 June, 2016. Further details on the poster requirements and the selection process are available at the conference website. Study tour and summer school An (optional) full day study tour will take participants to three local AD plants. Included in the tour are digestate treatment with nutrient recovery, a smallscale digester, and anaerobic digestion of

municipal waste. This year also features the TransBio Summer School, organised by the conference co-hosts Biogas-E and Ghent University, which will incorporate both the EBA conference and the study tour. The 2016 Conference is expected to draw more than 300 industry representatives, decision makers, and researchers from 25 countries. Its unique and dedicated audience will provide the perfect opportunity for exposure to a sector as rich and growing as AD and gasification. During all conference breaks participants can visit the conference exhibition and posters from renowned institutes and companies worldwide. The conference will be moderated by Christophe Maria Ravesloot, professor of applied science in innovation modelling renewable energy. Registrations for the conference are welcomed via the dedicated website www. Attractive prices, starting at €150 and €300, are offered for students and EBA members respectively, although every interested party will be able to benefit from an Early Bird promotional fee until 1 June, 2016. l

Bioenergy Insight

communication Bioenergy In the social media era, communication is rearing its head as a new obstacle for the bioenergy industry to tackle

Delivering a message


round table entitled Fact vs Myth — How to rewrite the bioenergy narrative took place recently in the framework of the 2016 Argus conference in London, UK. The fact that communication issues are now under the spotlight of one of the leading sectorial business conferences, under such an evocative title, speaks volumes about the challenges ahead. Following three mild winters, the bioenergy sector is still trying to catch its breath, while stakeholders have to deal with the concerns of the negative communication by some nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), seen by a majority as smear campaigns, far from on-the-ground realities. The timing could not be worse and this is not a coincidence. 2016 will be a pivotal year for the future of bioenergy at a European level. Major regulations with potentially direct and indirect impacts will be discussed, such as the future renewable energy sources (RES) directive and the bioenergy sustainability policy. Then, when it comes to influencing public decision makers, there are two main ways to proceed. The first one is to develop studies, to gather statistics, to build constructive positions based on balanced and pragmatic approaches. The second one is to opt for communication campaigns with sensationalist slogans aimed at discrediting the other party, with no regard to nuances, in order to put the

Bioenergy Insight

Jean-Baptiste Boucher, head of communications at AEBIOM

strongest pressure possible on decision makers. The problem with these kinds of oneshot campaigns — which are flourishing with the growth of social media — is that it could instantly over-shadow the sector, damaging its social acceptance in the long term, with no respect to the diversity of practices and the ground realities it embraces. Unexpected consquences In the specific case of solid bioenergy, these campaigns could have unexpected effects. In fact, studies undertaken in different European countries have shown that end consumers who have bought a pellet stove or a boiler, for instance, are firstly driven by economic reasons, with environmental aspects being an additional benefit. On the other side, if a negative perception of woody products were to develop, it could become a primary deterrent.

Organisations behind these campaigns, most of which admit that “bioenergy can have positive advantages under certain conditions”, do not take into account the long-lasting effects and the side consequences that their messages could have on the entire sector, not only the uses or installations that they are campaigning against. Bioenergy currently accounts for more than 60% of the renewable energy consumption in Europe and this high contribution is expected to reach the 2020 and 2030 RES targets and EU 2050 decarbonisation objective. Should the campaign continue disseminating deterrence along its path, potential customers of all sizes could reconsider their move to bioenergy installations. Thus, remaining with traditional fossil fuel solutions becomes more attractive. What a paradox! A solution at hand This is why bioenergy stakeholders in Europe are taking these communication concerns more and more seriously. We need, of course, to work on reminding everyone about the numerous advantages of bioenergy, to balance a debate which is suffering from a clear lack of nuances. However, reminding stakeholders with positive campaigns will not be enough. First of all, communication cannot be satisfied with wishful thinking. We should develop concrete initiatives and projects to address the concerns raised

against the bioenergy sector. Communication should be considered more and more as an integrated approach. Communication actions should be part of all new initiatives lead by bioenergy stakeholders, providing a strong back-up and increasing general awareness. Standalone institutional communication actions, whatever their number, relevance, and precision, often appear as empty nutshells in the digital age. Part of the communication should also be devoted to maintaining the dialogue with the many NGOs doing fieldwork with a pragmatic approach to reinforce the sustainability side. Secondly, since campaigners are acting as a wolf pack, following specific social media logics, bioenergy stakeholders should also be united in their communication. Individual communication actions are good achievements, but collective reactions will have more impact. The good news for the bioenergy sector is that platforms to develop those collective messages exist at both national and international level. AEBIOM is trying to create a fertile ground where the abovementioned principles can flourish. A brainstorming meeting will be organised soon to develop collective projects. AEBIOM hopes to gather a maximum number of stakeholders. It is time to (re)act. l For more information:

This article was written by Jean-Baptiste Boucher, head of communications at The European Biomass Association (AEBIOM). Visit:

May/June 2016 • 67

Bioenergy technology Engaging with a hazardous waste specialist early on in the design process can help biomass facility developers to maximise plant efficiency

Future-proofing biomass plants


iomass plant engineers use the most efficient technology to maximise power production and plant reliability. They also need to use the best available techniques when designing, for example, the flue gas treatment system; and yet some flexibility is required to accommodate changing feedstock and future regulatory conditions that will demand even lower emission limit values (ELVs). These are some of the issues addressed in the design process and they have a fundamental influence on the type, nature and volume of residues as well as a significant impact on the business case. The plant layout and site design needs to accommodate biomass delivery and storage. It also needs to allow smooth delivery and offloading of reagents (a substance used in a chemical reaction to detect, examine, or produce

Andrew Woolcock, director of Augean Energy & Construction

68 â&#x20AC;˘ May/June 2016

Incorporating â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;future-proofâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; design concepts into the layout and operating principles of new biomass plants is vital if operators are to maximise plant efficiency

other substances) as well as loading and removal of residues at any time of the day or night subject to planning constraints.

to deliver exceptional reliability and availability. Nonetheless, planned and unplanned outages do occur. Companies such as Augean

This early assessment gives a good opportunity to look at future trends in regulation So the positioning of silos, provision of access routes, turning areas and sufficient headroom for tankers is vital. Whatever the priorities, engaging with a specialist in the transport and treatment of residues at the earliest opportunity will make sure the biomass specialist can optimise its plant design, performance and cost of operations. This early assessment gives a good opportunity to look at future trends in regulation, bulk transport, and treatment techniques to future-proof the plant. Once in operation renewable energy plants are expected

can work in partnership with the plant operators to provide additional services to support the treatment and disposal of waste products from boiler clean down and duct cleaning works. These outages are usually carried out in a short time period on a 24/7 basis and it is important that the residue management specialist can receive materials day or night and has contingency facilities as back up. Good business continuity planning, resiliency, capacity and technical support helps plant operators meet tough deadlines for plant outages.

The assessment, selection and design of the process technology for a biomass power plant can benefit from technical engagement with residue management specialists at an early stage. Biomass operators can ensure cost effectiveness and flexibility if they consider the tail end products, the project design, and development phase. Keeping up to date with the latest developments requires operators and their service partners to gather intelligence on technological advancements, changing government policy, waste strategies and market factors. Events such as the forthcoming EUBCE 2016 biomass conference in June provide a platform for knowledge exchange and continuing professional development. l For more information:

This article was written by Andrew Woolcock, director of Augean Energy & Construction. Visit:

Bioenergy Insight

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May/June 2016 • 69

Bioenergy xxxx

Optimal additive for AD


Reference plant Nova Ves nad Zitavou, SK 3 MW.

Most effective additive for anaerobic digestation (AD): l secures r emoval of H2S – < 50% of Fe l secures feed of methanogen bacteria and support of methane production l is environmentally friendly – safe nanopowder product l secures easy handling with simple manipulation, dosing and storing l secures benefit due to the high content of trace elements (Co, Mn, Cu, Zn, Ni, ...) l secures return on investment – shows significant reduced consumption on the raw materials when used over a longer period of time Partners in Europe: SK – Biotec energy servis, s.r.o. l PL – EKOWAVE l NL, B, F, UK, L – BiogasJG B.V. l Visit us at ExpoBiogaz, 8 and 9 June in Strasbourg – stand K23 UK ADBA 2016, 6 and 7 July Birmingham NEC – stand C403 I – Biolological Care S.R.L. l

70 • May/June 2016

Reference plant BioMoer Energie B.V. Moerstraten (NL) 2 MW.

Bioenergy Insight

Bioenergy Insight May/June 2016  

Features in this edition include Anaerobic Digestion, maceration, biogas leak detection, briquetting, biomass boilers, logging waste and ris...

Bioenergy Insight May/June 2016  

Features in this edition include Anaerobic Digestion, maceration, biogas leak detection, briquetting, biomass boilers, logging waste and ris...