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Biogas systems: basics, biogas multifunction, principle of fermentation and hybrid application with a solar tower for the treatment of waste animal manure

  • Two of the main environmental problems of today’s society are the continuously increasing production of organic wastes as well as the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the related green house effect. A way to solve these problems is the production of biogas. Biogas is a combustible gas consisting of methane, carbon dioxide and small amounts of other gases and trace elements. Production of biogas through anaerobic digestion of animal manure and slurries as well as of a wide range of digestible organic wastes and agricultural residues, converts these substrates into electricity and heat and offers a natural fertiliser for agriculture. The microbiological process of decomposition of organic matter, in the absence of oxygen takes place in reactors, called digesters. Biogas can be used as a fuel in a gas turbine or burner and can be used in a hybrid solar tower system offering a solution for waste treatment of agricultural and animal residues. A solar tower system consists of a heliostat field, which concentrates direct solar irradiation on an open volumetric central receiver. The receiver heats up ambient air to temperatures of around 700°C. The hot air’s heat energy is transferred to a steam Rankine cycle in a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG). The steam drives a steam turbine, which in turn drives a generator for producing electricity. In order to increase the operational hours of a solar tower power plant, a heat storage system and/ or hybridization may be considered. The advantage of solar-fossil hybrid power plants, compared to solar-only systems, lies in low additional investment costs due to an adaptable solar share and reduced technical and economical risks. On sunny days the hybrid system operates in a solar-only mode with the central receiver and on cloudy days and at night with the gas turbine only. As an alternative to methane gas, environmentally neutral biogas can be used for operating the gas turbine. Hence, the hybrid system is operated to 100% from renewable energy sources

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Author:Spiros Alexopoulos
Parent Title (English):Journal of Engineering Science and Technology Review
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2012
Date of the Publication (Server):2013/02/04
First Page:48
Last Page:55
Special Issue on Renewable Energy Systems
Institutes:FH Aachen / Solar-Institut Jülich