What is the viability of bottling biogas? Are there any documented cases?
I would like to establish a business of bottling biogas, I have not heard of a case elsewhere. As indicated in the ongoing discussion on biogas, indeed it is an opportunity to transform life through provision of clean energy solution and I would like to add an entrepreneurship arm to it. This is because we cannot pipe purified biogas due to legislative and security constraints in my country and on combustion of biogas to electricity, we loose about 65% of energy on heat and other loses. To save on this loses we can compress the gas and sell it as bottled gas.
Its really an excelent thought. Establish a business of bottling biogas is new concept. Hope it will workout in such a way to prevent or decrease energy losses. I an much more impressed by this question, because it is not only prevent energy losses but also an ecofriendly technology. hence adding an entrepreneurship arm to such ecofriendly technologies is always appriciable.
I was thinking along the line long ago. This is great idea; but would like to point-out few key points. It is being done for gas grid where biogas is upgraded before pressurised before injecting into gas grid. There are are filling stations in several countries in Europe as transportation fuel. This is excellent method of storing and transporting. For example, LP gas liquefies at 160 psi; CH4 requires 5,000 psi for liquefaction. So, biogas must be stored as a gas. Large container size requirement at low pressure makes it impractical for prolonged periods. Propane tanks can be used up to 200 psi pressure; but higher pressures on-farm application are complex, expensive, and dangerous. Some cost-benefit analysis much be done with respect to bottling biogas and how it competes with the natural gas currently being used in cooking in many emerging developing countries.
You can also contact Dr.V.K Vijay from the Biogas Research Unit of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. They have done extensive research and work on Biogas purification and bottling. His email email@example.com
Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute
@Kuppam, thank you for sharing the same interest. And Dilek, thanks for the pdf document. From Samir's argument, it appears like an expensive complex system that will require high pressure compression at very low temperatures. Thinking of a causal loop diagram it consequently require new cylinders and not the LPG cylinders in the market, so a totally new design of storage cylinder to contain the high pressures hence high cost of cylinders hence low adoption, (NOT QUITE SIMPLE AND RISKY TOO I GUESS). I know it is used widely in transport system in Sweden, how they compress and store it for use in day is a very interesting concept. In an isolated rural area, the concept could be adopted such that instead of women going to collect firewood on a daily basis they can get to a centralised gas station for biogas refill at low pressure range. All in all, Thank you all and Dharmesh thanks for the contact, I will send Dr. Vijay a mail and get his opinion and some study findings. I would want to keep the systems, reduce energy cost and provide an alternative system.
However, the energetics and economics of the process are difficult, for several reasons. First, one does not want to compress biogas, because about half of it is CO2, and that adds nothing to the value of the fuel. Therefore, before compression, the biogas must be scrubbed (gases other than methane removed), as the title of the referenced paper indicates, and scrubbing requires energy and investment. Second, methane is very difficult to liquify, so that small bottles do not have much capacity-- some small multiple of their volume at STP. Third, the compressor must be given some source of fuel, and where there is enough, one would generally use the biogas as a fuel. (As a rule of thumb, it takes about 1/2 cu m, or 16 cu ft per HP per hour to run an engine.) There are as well related problems to be considered, including whether one will get the gas bottles back after use. (If a deposit is required, then the cost of the fuel will seem higher.)
If you wish to learn more about biogas, I would suggest a book I wrote, The Complete Biogas Handbook, available at http://completebiogas.com/. Some of the chapters are available as free PDFs, and there is a good deal of information on the site about various types of digesters.
Sorry: one other thing. When you say that there are about 65% losses, that figure does not take into account the fact that, with the proper genset, waste heat from the engine can be used to keep the digester warm, improving the rate of digestion. This is useful since one can then build a smaller digester, as detailed in the mentioned book.
I can't add anything to the already-excellent technical discussion here, but I wonder about an alternative approach altogether:
Considering your application is replacing firewood for heating in rural areas, what about using family-scale digesters rather than distributing biogas from a centralized plant? As you know, polyethylene tube digesters are small, simple, and inexpensive, and avoid the difficulties of pressurization. The entrepreneurial activity here would be providing supplies and instruction. If families lacked suitable feedstock, I wonder if even distributing dung would be practical! (Just an idea.)
Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute
This discussion has been very useful for me in my business model, and Wolfgang here is my email address firstname.lastname@example.org I will appreciate to review the other papers. And to Mirgdlu am glad for your link, I am actually going through it now.
Experience in India shows that you need populations of more than 20.000 people to have an adequate market and investment cost recovery for selling bottled biogas. You will need the faeces (10 kg = 40 to 50 defecations) and the soft kitchen and food waste of together about 20 kg per day to produce sufficient cooking gas for 2 hours or one family. When you have cattle you need about 30 kg dung for two hours of cooking gas. When sulpher and water is removed from the biogas (in the bottle) the gas quality is slightly better. The first issue raised is if you can produce enough gas.
Small domestic biogas reactors without cattle require about 50 persons to feed whereas only a few families have the benefit of the cooking gas. Making these reactors from low-cost polythene bags is a bad idea as these are not durable. You want to build an installation that will work faultless for at least 30 years.
For urban situations you can develop an urban housing cluster reactor that is integrated in existing or new housing according to the attached sketch.
If the point is to reduce firewood consumption in Kenia you need to focus on low cost solar water heaters that produce boiling water and solar cookers.
I found out this resource. This is work of Ms. Katrin Pütz, a Ph.D. student at Hohenheim University, Germany where she examined a biogas transportation away from the source of generation. This will be an excellent resource to look at. Please see this link:
Regarding what Sjoerd Nienhuys said, aren't there cases where affordability is more important than durability? Working faultlessly for 30 years seems overly-ambitious, especially when repairs are cheap. For comparison, most commercial-scale wind farms energy farms are only designed to operate (with faults) for 20 years.
@Matt Hall. It seems a contradiction, but for low-income people you do NOT need low quality and non-durable equipment. Moreover low-income people hardly do any maintenance ever. In India they produced tens of thousands small (rural) biogas reactors, but because of keeping cost as low as possible, and lack of stringent quality control, most of these reactors started leaking from the dome. The result was that they did not perform and people said they did not supply sufficient gas or no gas at all. The secondary effect was that the rural biogas programme did not expand and the biogas programme got a poor image. Only with very durable materials and fully gas tight constructions which cannot be easily damaged, success and replicability can be assured. Ofcourse that requires more initial investment than a polethene bag. The problem you are touching is that people usually look at the investment cost only and not at the long-term economic return. Financing institutes often have the same problem. the effect is that everything needs to be bought cheap, and fails after one year or less. The direct result is that the investment has very little economic return. Low income people need durable equipment with long-lasting economic return, but local government and finance instututes need to have security that the equipment keeps on working for many years in order to lend money. This is one of the aspects of renewable energy which has a low anual economic yield.
Affordability is not the same as low initial cost. Some equipment becomes affordable when the cost and return can be balanced over 30 years. Since the biogas reactor has no moving parts, 30 years is the minimum.
Wind farms are a different issue because these have moving mechanic parts. A windmill operates each day 10 times longer than an intensively used motor cycle and requires constant maintenance to combat wear and tear. Most wind farms therefore are not economically sustainable without subsidies, unless very durable equipment is used in high wind yield areas.
I think a number of people get LPG and CNG (Compressed biogas) mixed up. There is a huge difference as LPG is propane/butane and liquifies at lowish pressures at ambient temperatures whereas Natural Gas/Biogas is methane that will not liquify at ambient temperature, so has to be stored under very high pressure in heavy cylinders (like oxygen or nitrogen cylinders).
I am interested to know how Ms. Katrin Pütz transported biogas and agree with Matt Hall that a distributed system has advantages if it can be set up, as it avoids a lot of waste collection/transport and then redistribution of treated sludge. Also a household system gives ownership/responsibility to the household.
I was searching on web about this topic and i am fascinated with Ombea's idea. Looking at the chat, its almost three years since the discussion occurred. I would like to know the progress of your idea as of 2015. Waiting to read from you soon.
I have been thinking on bottling of biogas for a long time. Removal of CO2 gives an installation that is too complex.My solution is to compress biogas to a pressure of 15 bar using a peristaltic pomp and filling 33 l alluminum butane/propane bottles. One bottle is equivalent to 0.5 m3 of biogas. A family needs about two bottles per day. I would opt for removal of H2S in the biogas reactor using FeOH or simmilar. Steel bottles corrode too fast by the combination of H2S and condens water.
This set-up is quite expensive. In europe 33 l aluminum bottles cost about 250 € and a used peristaltic pump for 2.5 m3/h costs 1 500 €.
I have added the publication of Puetz on the biogas bag. Leakage is a maior problem with pliable materials.
You may go through the attached file. In India we got some success, however still lot of work need to be done to make the technology viable & economical. Dr Ram Narayan singh, Professor of biofuel at School of Energy & Environmental Studies, DAVV, Indore, India
The development of renewable energy technologies (RETs) in rural areas requires acceptance of technical solutions by key stakeholders, such as consumers and decision‐makers, as well as energy providers. This study aims to identify the current status of public acceptance of RETs, especially biogas technology, the associated influencing factors, and...
The underlying paper aims at detecting key external parameters that influence profitability of Renewable Energy Technologies (RET) and at providing for a preliminary ranking of their importance. As profitability is key to the future development of RET a ranking of profitability drivers could support policymakers in their efforts to foster such grow...
Among the renewable energy technologies, biogas plants are particularly interesting since they offer a reliable, steady source of electricity and heat. Both the composition as well as the quality of the biogas are crucial parameters for monitoring and optimizing the complete process chain. Currently employed systems only allow for ex-situ measureme...