Environmental sustainability with biogas conversion
7 February 2022
The biogas sector has strengthened in all European countries, tripling the number of plants in less than 10 years. To date, there are about 18,000 operating plants in Europe, of which 10% in Italy.
The biogas produced by these plants is currently used as a fuel in the powerhouses to generate electricity and heat with the total conversion of the carbon content to CO2. The emissions generated during the combustions in the electric motor are directly emitted into the atmosphere.
In this context, the research group of prof. Manenti of “Sustainable Process Engineering Research” (SuPER, www.super.chem.polimi.it ), offered a real alternative. They proposed the conversion of biogas for the production of chemical compounds with high added-value (methanol, dimethyl ether) with the consequent recovery of CO2 present in biogas and a rapid economic return.
The technology for converting BIoGaS to li-QUIDi (BIG SQUID™) consists of a modular system (a heat exchange section, a reforming section, a synthesis section and a purification section). It is inserted downstream of the traditional plant, without any plant invasiveness or need for modifications to the existing plant. The biogas current is partially or completely received and transformed into bio-methanol, bio-dimethyl ether (bio-DME), bio-acetic acid or other basic organic chemicals according to market need for high added-value products.
The BIG SQUID™ forms self-sustainable energy as it combines with the electric combustion engine that makes the best use of the heat generated to promote chemical synthesis. This has a high yield product and recovers over 99% of CO2, which consequently has a positive environmental impact. The BIG SQUID™ which was initiated by a group of researchers from Politecnico di Milano, supported by TTO (PoliMi) and has collaborations with several companies. Its technology has been verified at the pilot scale at the Center for SuPER structures. The basic engineering has already been prepared for modules 0.15 and 0.6 MWh biogas equivalents. A first demonstrator for the synthesis of methanol (followed by a 1MW industrial plant) will be built in Umbria in 2020.