Schörfling, Austria. In Heek, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, the 1,000th reference plant for biogas upgrading is being built, equipped with SEPURAN® Green membranes from Evonik. The specialty chemicals company is celebrating a significant milestone in its young history as a technology provider for membrane-based gas separation. Since the product launch in 2011, Evonik has worked with selected partners to develop its membrane technology into a new quality standard in biogas upgrading. The group is driving forward the green transformation toward a sustainable gas economy.
The anniversary plant is a biogas upgrading “PurePac” project with Bio-CO2 liquefaction of the Dutch plant builder Bright Renewables on behalf of three local farmers. In it, organic mass consisting of mainly manure will be used for biogas production. The biomass thus will produce 1,600 Nm³/h of raw biogas, which will be upgraded to high-purity biomethane and 1,200 kg/hr Bio-CO2 using Evonik’s SEPURAN® Green hollow-fibre membranes. The highly concentrated biomethane will be fed into the local natural gas grid. The food-grade Bio-CO2 will be produced on site and will be available as another regenerative raw material source for the regional beverage industry, for example. The plant is scheduled to go into operation in November of this year.
“This project marks a special occasion as Evonik achieved their 1,000th reference, showing our joint commitment to excellence, innovation, renewable energy, and sustainability. It is a symbol of our teamwork in working towards a greener and more sustainable future by realizing renewable gas projects across the world. We are looking forward to more biogas plants where our technologies come together.” says Jafeth Bulsink, Manager Sales at Bright Renewables.
“There are just twelve years between the first biogas test plant and the 1,000th reference plant with SEPURAN® Green membranes. The market success of our membrane business is based on Evonik’s innovative strength, which originates in our polymer expertise,” says Dr. Goetz Baumgarten, Head of the Membranes Innovation Growth Field at Evonik. “In close cooperation with our partners, we are setting new standards in terms of efficiency, methane yield, and uptime of biogas plants and have established our membrane technology as the new quality standard in international markets.“
Biomethane is an important building block in the renewable energy mix, alongside solar and wind technology. For years, Europe, with France as the pioneer, has played a leading role in biogas production on an international scale. In the meantime, many other European countries such as Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands, but also the large economies of the USA and China, are relying on this climate-friendly energy source.
Germany is home to around 10,000 biogas plants that produce around 95 terawatt hours (TWh) of biogas annually. Of this, around 85 TWh is converted to electricity and heat on site. Biogas upgrading using membranes is another way of utilizing the renewable energy source in its high-purity components biomethane and Bio-CO2 efficiently.
Biogas is produced by the fermentation of biomass – an organic substance, for example, from waste such as liquid manure and sewage sludge or from renewable raw materials. The particularly selective SEPURAN® Green hollow-fiber membranes from Evonik easily and efficiently separate raw biogas, which consists of the energy carrier biomethane and renewable carbon dioxide, into high-purity biomethane and Bio-CO2. The climate-friendly energy source can consequently be used to generate electricity and heat or used as a fuel. Bio-CO2, on the other hand, can be liquified onsite and used as renewable raw material for various applications. The membranes are made of a high-performance polymer specially developed by Evonik that is highly resistant to pressure and temperature.
Compared with other biogas upgrading processes such as pressurized water scrubbing, pressure swing adsorption, or amine scrubbing, Evonik’s membrane technology has significant advantages: It requires comparatively little energy and does not need any auxiliary materials or chemicals. No waste or wastewater is produced that would otherwise have to be treated and require disposal.
SEPURAN® Green membranes are produced at Evonik’s site in Schörfling, Austria. The base material – the high-performance polymer – is produced in neighboring