Biogas projects gain traction

By Erin Voegele
While the biogas market in Europe is well-developed, it has taken longer for the industry to gain a foothold in North America. However, recent biogas project announcements suggest this may be changing.

In October, QuestAir Technologies Inc., a Canadian-based developer and supplier of gas purification systems, announced the company plans to focus largely on the biogas market. "We've been in a couple of different markets but really saw a great growth opportunity in biogas," said Andrew Hall, QuestAir's president and chief executive officer. The company uses a modular pressure swing absorption technology that separates impurities, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide, from methane. The result is a renewable natural gas suitable for injection into natural gas pipelines or for use as compressed natural gas (CNG) for transportation fuel. The technology can be applied at landfills and in combination with any entity making methane gas in anaerobic digesters, including wastewater treatment facilities and livestock operations.

To date, QuestAir's technology has been utilized in five biogas projects in North America and five in Europe. California-based Hilarides Dairy is using the technology to produce CNG, which is used to power milk trucks. Near Cincinnati, the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill is using QuestAir's technology to purify landfill gas, which is then injected into a preexisting natural gas pipeline.

Biogas can also be used to produce electricity. In South Carolina, Allied Waste Industries Inc., a nonhazardous solid waste management company, and Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility, have partnered to develop a biogas-to-electricity project at the Anderson Regional Landfill. The power generation facility began operating Sept. 1 and has the capacity to produce 3.2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 1,500 homes.

Biogas projects have continued to gain traction in Europe, as well. In October, Climate Change Capital Private Equity, a 200 million ($260 million) fund dedicated to clean technology, announced it would make a 6 million ($7.8 million) investment in England-based Renewable Zukunft Ltd. The funding will allow Renewable Zukunft to partner with farmers and other organizations to develop anaerobic digestion plants, each capable of producing 10 million kilowatts of electricity annually. In addition, U.K.-based Biogas Nord recently constructed a 370-kilowatt-per-year biogas plant in the U.K. The plant's feedstocks include liquid cattle manure, corn and grass silage.