Process optimization with BIOGASmax
Make your biogas plant fit for the future

Bioenergy in the form of biogas is an important component in the renewable energy mix. In Germany, the Renewable Energy Sources Act (the EEG) established lucrative incentives for constructing biogas plants. There are now around 10,000 biogas plants generating electricity and thermal energy in Germany alone. Ongoing developments in the renewable energy sector are placing new demands on the operators of biogas plants. The focus is on two key concepts: process optimization and flexibility. This is true whether the operator is a farmer or an industrial company. All are faced with the same questions about the weak points and optimization potential of their biogas plants and the question of how to find a suitable partner for process optimization and efficiency improvement.

There is still unused potential for process optimization in many biogas plants. Replacement investment for equipment is also due in older plants. This is where the BIOGASmax concept from Vogelsang comes into play. We work together with our customers to develop individual strategies for modifying existing biogas plants with the aim of improving their efficiency. Vogelsang offers a comprehensive range of services for optimizing the digestion system, whether through improved substrate utilization, reduction of input energy requirements, or simply through trouble-free operation and simplified processes to free up time for the core tasks of biogas production. We never lose sight of the most important goal: how can costs be reduced and the profit of the biogas plant be increased?

BIOGASmax: process optimization in detail

A systematic approach is essential for process optimization of a biogas plant:

1. In-depth analysis of the biogas plant
The BIOGASmax consultant works with the operator to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the biogas plant and to define objectives.

2. Accurate advice on possible measures
We develop economical solutions that take into account the individual characteristics of each biogas plant.

3. Joint decision
The BIOGASmax consultant and the operator decide on solutions for increasing output, reducing costs, or increasing the operational reliability of the biogas plant.

4. Technology and components
Vogelsang provides expertise and comprehensive technology for implementing the improvements for the entire digestion system.

5. Service and support
The BIOGASmax consultant provides ongoing support for the biogas plant even after the optimization measures have been implemented.

Biogas plant analysis—the basis of successful process optimization

Every biogas plant is different. An in-depth analysis of the plant is therefore a crucial first step. What works well? How can effective use be made of the process heat that is generated? Which areas of the plant are operating efficiently? And which areas are experiencing problems? Is there still potential for process optimization of the digestion system, in order to improve the efficiency of the biogas plant as a whole? This requires a serious and comprehensive evaluation of the current situation. We work together with the operator to record and analyze all the relevant data of the biogas plant. Based on that analysis, we meet with you to identify possible starting points and develop tailored proposals for the optimization of your biogas plant. The possible solutions available are as diverse as the biogas plants themselves. They may include adapting the operation of individual components to suit the plant, adapting pipelines, or the use of additional components and options or new assemblies.

Do you find that your biogas plant seems to be running well, but in the end its costs get out of hand and prevent it from making a decent profit? What can you do when your operating and maintenance costs are too high? We help operators and owners of biogas plants to reduce costs and thereby to increase the efficiency of their biogas plant.

Reducing the input energy required by reducing the viscosity of the organic suspension

Many operators ask themselves how they can reduce the energy requirements of their biogas plant. One simple way of doing this is to install a cutter — especially when long-fibered residue and energy crops are utilized — in order to lower the viscosity of the organic suspension. This results in improved efficiency, because the power consumption and runtimes of pumps and mixers are reduced considerably.

New features and options for longer service life and efficient biogas operation

We constantly continue to develop our products and adapt them to the special requirements of biogas production, with new features and options, to reduce the rate of wear on the components. One example is the InjectionSystem  for rotary lobe pumps. It can be retrofitted with minimal effort, prevents damage from foreign matter, increases the pump's suction capability, and therefore also increases its service life.

Advanced liquid feeding for efficient infeed of solid matter—also for alternative biomass

The benefits of an advanced liquid feeding system have been demonstrated by the EU research project EU-AGRO-BIOGAS and, crucially, by the experience of many biogas plant operators. The biomass undergoes optimum treatment before digester feeding, removing the need for energy-intensive mixing of the feed into the digestate. In the final analysis, operators save energy and costs when feeding in the solid matter and when circulating the contents of the digesters.

In addition to greater flexibility in electricity production, many operators would like to achieve greater flexibility in the feeding of solid matter, and want to know how they can adapt their biogas plant to different input materials. Optimization of solid matter feeding clears the way for the use of alternative and lower-cost biomass, which may include grass silage, dung, and other agricultural residues, or even sugar beets, potatoes, organic waste, and food waste.

Reduced pressure for lower power requirements in pumps

Optimizing the dimensions and layout of pipes can reduce the level of pressure required. The power requirements of the pumps are therefore reduced and their service life increased for a calculable cost, even in the case of low-viscosity liquid manure and digestate.

Fast maintenance and service for reduced operating costs

Excellent and rapid accessibility for service and maintenance and easy-to-change spare parts for pumps and cutters help reduce downtimes and costs. The biogas plant can run smoothly, without major disruption, creating ideal conditions for stable and constant biogas yields.

Increased efficiency through control technology

The use of intelligent control technology is particularly beneficial. It controls many operating processes in the biogas plant automatically and removes the need for manual intervention in biogas production, thus saving valuable time.

As most people are well aware, the biogas yield is a key parameter for economical operation of a biogas plant. It has a direct impact on the returns of the entire plant. In practice, there are more ways to increase biogas yields than many people think.

Higher biogas yields through treatment of coarse and long-fibered biomass

If a lot of coarse and long-fibered input materials are used, such as dung and long-fibered silage, biomass shredding helps to improve the biogas yield. Mechanical shredding increases the surface area of the material. Bacteria can reach the nutrients more easily and can convert them more effectively.

More biogas through disintegration

Many people have heard that disintegration can improve biogas production and often the methane level as well. But many are not sure exactly what this disintegration is and what options there are for achieving it.

Disintegration is a type of process optimization that involves various kinds of treatment of the biomass, all of which aim to make it easier for bacteria to access nutrients, in order to boost biogas production. This treatment may be mechanical shredding and/or enlarging of the biomass surface area by cutting the biomass up, grinding it, or mashing it, as in the DisRuptor. Or it may involve breaking up groups of cells known as aggregates or colloids, as in the BioCrack. Which procedure is the best option depends on both the biomass itself and the biogas plant.

More biogas through bacteria-friendly treatment of biomass during solid matter feeding

Solid matter feeding presents another opportunity for improving the biogas yield. The results of the EU research project EU-AGRO-BIOGAS show a higher specific and absolute biogas yield when solid matter is fed in as a liquid rather than dry. Feeding the solids into the digester in a well mashed form makes them easily accessible for bacteria, prevents crusting and settling, and lowers the viscosity of the organic suspension. This ensures more thorough mixing of the digester content and facilitates outgassing. The biomass is utilized more effectively, which increases the specific biogas yield.

If a biogas plant is to be profitable in reality as well as on paper, it needs to be stable and run with few disruptions. Malfunctions and interruptions in operation keep the plant personnel from their planned routine tasks and cost money. Malfunctions and long periods of servicing also mean erratic plant operation, which often results in reduced biogas yields. However, malfunctions can often be avoided or at least significantly reduced, meaning that investments often pay for themselves in just a short time, thanks to process optimization.

Remove or shred foreign and disruptive matter in the biogas plant as early as possible

Foreign and disruptive matter inevitably gets into biogas plants together with liquid manure, renewable materials, and organic waste. In the form of stones, metal, or pieces of wood, they cause blockages in pumps and gate valves, and clog pipes. They can, however, be easily avoided or significantly reducedby checking deliveries and storing silage on fixed silo surfaces. In many cases, however, that is not enough, and it is necessary to work out how disruptive matter can be removed. A RotaCut with a foreign matter separator separates out foreign and disruptive matter or reduces it to an unproblematic size. This helps to reliably avoid disruptions and prevents wear in the plant components downstream. A cutter can be installed or retrofitted at many points in the plant.

Prevent fiber buildup and clogging in your biogas plant

Fibrous matter is a necessary part of operations in biogas plants. A large number of fibers therefore enter the plant in substrates such as dung and grass silage. Straw twine, nets, etc. can sometimes not be avoided either. Simple modifications can eliminate fiber traps in the pipes and fittings, preventing clogging. Using a cutter actively prevents fiber buildup and clogging in overflows or heat exchangers: It cuts up the fibrous matter and treats the organic suspension effectively. This prevents unplanned disruptions that would require immediate intervention.

Ensure thorough mixing in the digesters and prevent surface crust

In addition to clogging and buildup, fibers also cause solid layers of surface crust. The viscosity of the substrate in the digester rises, and the digester content is not mixed properly. Using a cutter homogenizes and disintegrates the suspension. In addition, the viscosity of the organic suspension and the tendency for crusting are significantly reduced. The contents of the digester are mixed reliably and error messages from overloaded mixers—up to and including complete failure—are avoided. This increases operational reliability considerably.

Feed alternative biomass reliably with advanced solid matter feeders

Alternative biomass, such as dung, whole plant silage, sugar beets and potatoes, is becoming ever more prominent. It is often cheaper and makes crop rotation more flexible. However, such substrates often bring a lot of foreign matter and long-fibered material into the biogas plant, when the plant's solid matter feed is often designed for corn silage. Long fibers and foreign matter lead to malfunctions and failures. In such cases, it is worthwhile to switch to a flexible solid matter feeding system that includes a RotaCut, such as the PreMix, or to retrofit a RotaCut. Before the entry point into the digester, this system will separate out heavy material, shred foreign matter, and homogenize the organic suspension, thus preventing disruptions.

Prevent gas becoming trapped in biogas plant components and pipes

It is not always 100% possible to prevent gas from becoming trapped, but a carefully designed pipe layout can significantly reduce it. Or it can accumulate the gas at a high point deliberately designed for this purpose and release it from time to time.

Reliable lifting from deep pits

Pumps in biogas plants often have to lift the material they pump, while evacuating gas or air from empty pipes. That means they have to dry-lift substances like liquid manure from deep pits. With optimized connections, e.g. in the form of connector boxes, the suction capacity and dry-run capability of a rotary lobe pump is significantly increased. This eliminates malfunctions and service interventions caused by the pump running hot, no longer lifting, or pumping unevenly.

Case studies in the biogas sector

Case study - Bioenergie Bamberg GmbH & Co.KG - XRipper XRS136-105Q

Problem: Damage to pumps as a result of soiling
Solution: XRipper XRS136-105Q

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Case study - Biogas plant Hofmann - RotaCut with ACC

Problem: Thick floating layers and clogging in the external heater
Solution: Vogelsang RotaCut® with AutomaticCutControl (ACC®)

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Case study - Duderstadt biogas plant - RotaCut pro

Problem: High energy requirements for mixing the digester in the Duderstadt biogas plant
Solution: Vogelsang RotaCut® pro

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We would be happy to show you what systematic process optimization can do for you!

Are you interested in an analysis of your plant, want to find out more about BIOGASmax, or have a question? Complete the form below and your consultant will contact you as quickly as possible. Or use our online form to send us the most important specifications of your biogas plant. We work with you to analyze your biogas plant and identify potential for process optimization.

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