February 26, 2015
Biogas, a commonly used biofuel that contains methane, is produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter, such as manure, organic waste or energy crops in the absence of oxygen. Biogas generates renewable energy and is an environment-friendly alternative to fossil fuels.
Drawing on a century of expertise within nitrogen chemicals, Yara has developed an innovative product that uses a nitrate solution to speed up and optimize the naturally-occurring fermentation of biomass used to produce biogas. The enhanced production process results in a 5 percent higher gas yield, making it more profitable for farmers and others to engage in the production of biogas. Other benefits include higher methane concentration in the biogas produced, as well as raw material (substrate) and maintenance-related savings.
“Yara’s knowledge of nitrogen chemistry and of anaerobic fermentation processes has allowed us to create a novel solution that increases biogas output and improves gas quality (higher methane concentration), thereby increasing profits of biogas producers ,” says Dr. Marina Ettl, Head of Application Development at Yara. “We help farmers and other biogas producers achieve better yields through the innovative, controlled application of a nitrate solution,” she says.
Biogas has become a popular source of energy, with more than 14,500 biogas plants in Europe alone, operated by farmers, industrial plants or municipalities. Germany is the biggest market for biogas, with more than 8,000 plants, followed by Italy. Sweden is well known for using biogas in its transport sector. Opportunities have also been identified in the U.S., Brazil and South East Asia. Initially, Yara’s primary focus will be on Germany.
“The Biogas Production Optimizer allows an average sized farm-based biogas plant in Germany (500 kWel) to increase its profits by about EUR 15,000 to 20,000 a year,” says Yara’s Ettl. “Yara’s completely new approach to biogas production will make biogas more attractive as an alternative to fossil fuels, thereby reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Biogas Production Optimizer is a technical novelty. It is backed by years of research, several filed patents and three years of field testing. The product, which is compatible with all types of biogas plants, consists of software that regulates the precise dosing of the nitrate solution, installation equipment, and application knowledge.
“Yara is a household name among farmers around the world, as we have helped them increase their crop yields for more than 100 years,” says Ettl. “Now Yara is adding a totally new solution to its product portfolio that will help some of the same customers boost their biogas yields,” she says.
“The Biogas Production Optimizer is yet another example of how Yara uses its industry knowledge to develop innovative products that help customers boost profits.”
Founded in Norway in 1905, Yara delivers solutions for sustainable agriculture and the environment. The company, which has a worldwide presence, focuses on nitrogen-based fertilizers and nitrogen for industrial applications. Yara focuses on leveraging production process synergies to develop innovative products that help its customers achieve better yields.
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