Manure digester with mixer from Jongia: Manure digestion with wood

Article Leeuwarder Courant 25 May 2016, photo: Catrinus van der Veen

The new manure digester at the Dairy Campus will soon be up and running. There is a glimmer of hope for farmers and municipalities.

Until mid-2012, cows from the Dairy Campus heated the houses in Techum. The manure of the animals was fermented together with corn and the biogas was transported to the new housing estate in Leeuwarden where it was used to produce electricity and heat. But due to technical problems and high corn prices, Dairy Campus pulled the plug on the digester that year and the people of Techum had to make do with regular natural gas.

In August, it’s the cows’ turn again. The American companies Evergreen Energy and Clark Technology, together with Universal Energy Solutions of the Leeuwarden entrepreneur Piet van der Hoop and the Fûns Skjinne Fryske Enerzjy, have united to form Biogas Leeuwarden and have a brand new manure digester built on the same site. Equipped with a technology by which cow manure can be profitably fermented. Production will start in June and by August there should be enough biogas available for Techum.

Woody substances

The special feature of the digester is that the plant is able to extract biogas from woody substances such as twigs, leaves, wood chips and roadside grass. This has been demonstrated on a smaller scale in the Evergreen Energy installation. The project at the Dairy Campus must demonstrate whether this technology also works on a large scale.

Before ending up in the digester, the cow manure, roadside grass and twigs are first ground in a so-called biogrinder and transferred to a hydrolysis tank where the cell structure is broken open. The latter enables the bacteria to make better use of the material and produce more biogas with a higher methane content. Also new in the digester are the mixers, made by Jongia in Leeuwarden, which ensure a continuous mixing of the substance to be digested, emphasizes director Wim Vrieling of Biogas Leeuwarden.

Twice as much biogas

The hope and expectation is that the U.S. manure digester will produce twice as much biogas as its predecessor: 1,000 cubic meters per day instead of 500. The goal is to upgrade half of the biogas production to natural gas quality and inject it into the gas grid.

If the digester functions properly, it offers prospects, especially for livestock farmers and municipalities. The farmers no longer need to use food, such as corn, and they are no longer dependent on expensive by-products. Municipalities will be much cheaper with their green waste. The initiators are confident. They are aiming at a global market, Vrieling knows.

Similar projects are in preparation in Ukraine, Turkey and some African countries.

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