As climate change and environmental issues grow more critical, Segment Leader for Molecular Filtration, Victor Rengel, shares his guidance. He outlines the innovation of biogas, its positive impact on Canada, and how biogas processes can be optimized to be as effective as possible.
Canada is the world’s sixth largest producer of electricity, with 8% of generated electricity being exported to the U.S. Residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and agricultural sectors all share in the intensive demand for Canadian electricity1. As Canada contributes heavily to electricity generation and exportation, the country is looking towards implementing more renewable sources of energy at a large scale. This is particularly important as governments within Canada continuously fail to meet the nation’s climate targets, despite the country warming up at twice the rate of the rest of the world2.
What is Biogas and How Can it Be Converted to Energy in Canada?
Among innovations like hydropower, solar energy, and wind energy, biogas is an important solution in creating a cleaner, greener planet and is the third fastest growing renewable energy source in the world. Segment Leader for Molecular Filtration, Victor Rengel, states that biogas “contributes to the diversion of organic materials, resulting in benefits like fewer greenhouse gas emissions, a reduced need for fossil fuel energy sources, the production of digestate which returns organic matter to the soil and also helps with avoiding potential methane emissions from landfills.”
Biogas is an energy-rich gas, composed primarily of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S), Ammonia (NH3), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)3. It is produced via anaerobic decomposition of biomass, which are natural fuel sources. Biogas can either be burned directly as a fuel, or can be used as a form of natural gas when carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed.
The process of anaerobic decomposition occurs when anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that live without oxygen) break down biomass and produce biogas. Anaerobic bacteria can be found in soils, bodies of water, and even in humans and animals in areas such as the mucous membranes and gastrointestinal tracts. Biogas is formed and collected in a number of different areas4.
What Are the Sources of Biogas?
Biogas is sourced from four main areas5:
- Food waste
- Landfill gas from solid waste
- Sewage and industrial wastewater treatment
- Animal waste
The following are real-life examples that illustrate the biogas sourcing process within Canada:
To address food waste produced from residences and commercial buildings, an industrial biogas facility in Elmira, Ontario is converting food waste to feedstock. The feedstock, or raw material, is then used for energy generation and can also be used to produce goods and finished products. Although food waste is currently a smaller source of biogas, energy creation potential is significant.
Landfill Gas From Solid Waste
Landfills contain anaerobic bacteria used to produce biogas, or in this scenario landfill gas (LFG). Instead of allowing LGF to escape into the surrounding atmosphere, it is oftentimes used as energy. A landfill in Salmon Arm, British Columbia is upgrading biogas derived from LFG to insert it into a natural gas distribution system. The facility has already been awarded a Sustainable Community Award for initiating this project.
Sewage and Industrial Wastewater Treatment
Typically, wastewater treatment plants have anaerobic digesters to treat solid waste. However, many plants do not have the proper equipment to use the biogas produced. If all facilities in Canada installed energy recovery mechanisms, annual CO2 emissions could be reduced by billions of kilograms. A facility that is taking advantage of energy recovery mechanisms is a wastewater treatment plant in Richmond, British Columbia. Although it is not ready for operation, the project is expected to proceed within the next two years.
An average dairy cow can produce around 80 pounds of manure each day. In most cases, the manure is stored in holding tanks before being used as fertilizer. This process creates methane. When manure is used to produce biogas instead, greenhouse gas emissions, odours, and manure pathogens are reduced6. A farm in Lindsay, Ontario is harnessing biogas to manage the large volume of manure produced by over 600 animals that reside on the property.
Why Do You Need Proper Filtration for Biogas Production?
Proper molecular filtration in biogas production is critical as the process releases contaminated gases that cause engine corrosion and equipment abrasion, which in turn causes unscheduled downtime for maintenance and repair followed by a loss of output and profit7.
Rengel adds “molecular filtration is also a highly effective method for VOCs removal. This is key for the production of biomethane, as the VOCs can damage the equipment used for upgrading biogas”. Biomethane is highly valuable as it can be used as vehicle fuel or injected into the gas distribution network.
Fortunately, there are several ways of solving these issues in biogas plants through different types of molecular filter media. Molecular filters use a technique known as adsorption, in which molecules are drawn into the pores of the carbon media. As the active ingredient, activated carbon or alumina is used to attract the target molecules. It is typically deployed in filter deep beds, placed between metal sheets and is inserted in a variety of heavy-duty housings as single or multiple stages.
What is the Ideal Filtration Solution for Biogas Production?
We offer several molecular filtration solutions that are ideal for biogas processes. CamPure 32 is our newest molecular media, and it is available as a loose adsorbent. This high-quality chemical adsorbent is a combination of mineral and activated carbon, treated by a chemical impregnation system. This media has a lower dust content compared to classical carbon and also exhibits a longer life. It is highly efficient on Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) removal, transparent to VOCs, and is also UL 900 classified for flammability. For the removal of VOCs to protect biogas upgrading systems, Camfil recommends deep bed filters with activated carbon.
The ProCarb Horizontal Deep Bed (HDB) Biogas Filter is a molecular filtration system designed to ensure the highest level of performance for biogas applications. It has a safe and easy installation process and operation, requiring minimal routine maintenance.
There are a variety of factors that determine which air filtration solutions work best for your biogas processes. Be sure to contact an experienced air filtration consultant to find the air filtration solutions that are right for your building.
About Camfil Canada Clean Air Solutions
For more than half a century, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. We firmly believe that the best solutions for our customers are the best solutions for our planet, too. That’s why every step of the way – from design to delivery and across the product life cycle – we consider the impact of what we do on people and on the world around us. Through a fresh approach to problem-solving, innovative design, precise process control, and a strong customer focus we aim to conserve more, use less and find better ways – so we can all breathe easier.
The Camfil Group is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has 33 manufacturing sites, six R&D centers, local sales offices in 30 countries, and about 4,800 employees and growing. We proudly serve and support customers in a wide variety of industries and in communities across the world. To discover how Camfil Canada can help you to protect people, processes and the environment, visit us at www.camfil.com/en-ca/.
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