Process analytics support higher yields in biogas plants – Case Study

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The production of biogas by means of the anaerobic, microbial breakdown of organic substances in “biogas plants” is growing in significance, especially against a background of increasingly scarce and expensive fossil fuels.

The key energy-generating element is methane. Depending on the baseline conditions, biogas also contains small quantities of water vapor, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), nitrogen (N2) and traces of lower fatty acids and alcohols.

To date, biogas has primarily been used for power generation and simultaneous provision of thermal energy at the location of the biogas plant.

In the majority of biogas plants constructed in recent years for the production of methane gas from biomass, a host of materials have been utilized simultaneously. In this respect, both renewable resource plants and co-fermenters (common fermentation of animal waste with biomass) are used.

The composition of the input materials and the effectiveness of the fermentation process have a decisive influence on the quality of the biogas produced and on the associated methane yield. A high methane yield is positively reflected in the high efficiency when generating power in combined heating and power plants (CHP) and in the supply to the public gas network.

The ULTRAMAT 23 gas analyzer with integral H2S sensor is ideally suited to the simple and continuous monitoring of biogas plants.

A biogas plant requires daily support and control, as it involves a sensitive biological process. Key process characteristics are, for example, the temperature, the dwell time and rearrangement of the substrate, as well as the quantity and frequency of the substrate feed. In order to optimize and control the plant, it is absolutely essential to analyze the gas composition on a continuous basis.

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