Apr 2017
Gas Distribution
Higher chain alkane gases from Anaerobic Digestion
Apr 2017
Apr 2020
Wales and West Utilities
Ian Marshall (Green Gas Development Manager)
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Network Innovation Allowance
Gas Distribution Networks
The project will investigate whether anaerobic digestion can produce higher chain alkane gases, initially ethane, with the aim of removing the need to add propane to biomethane before injection into gas distribution networks. This project is in partnership with the University of South Wales and will help fund a PhD studentship to investigate the feasibility of this process. It will build on preliminary research done by the University of South Wales Centre of Excellence for Anaerobic Digestion headed by Professor Sandra Esteves. A key consideration is to ensure that the solution is commercially viable, for example that any gain in ethane production is not at such a large loss in methane production to outweigh the benefits of not having to add propane. The University has the expertise in the biological research and WWU will contribute commercial and industry knowledge to ensure that any processes developed are commercially viable and meet regulatory requirements.

The project will:

  • Task 1) MPhil/PhD registration, lab H&S inductions/training; network gas regulation information (provided by partner) and introduction to lab techniques (Month 1-3);
  • Task 2) Refine methodologies for monitoring high chain C2-C4 alkane gases in the lab using GC and setup laboratory reactors for batch and continuous operation (Month 2-12);
  • Task 3) Conduct a literature review and a technical investigation of the potential for anaerobic cultures i.e. pure and mixed cultures to convert organic wastes to higher chain alkane gases separately and in combination with methane as the output (Month 2-34);
  • Task 4) Investigation of the possible process integrations with ethanol/yeast platforms (Month 2-28);
  • Task 5) Evaluations of a selection of strategies for enrichment of the microbial populations capable of these conversions as well as operational regimes (Month 2-34);
  • Task 6) Investigate process chemical matrices and inhibition conditions and their influence on gas yields (Month 4- 28)
  • Task 7) Evaluate bioprocess stability and energetics as a comparison with methane only production (Month 28-34)

To determine whether it is both technically feasible and cost effective to produce higher chain alkanes from AD process to remove the need to add propane to biomethane to enable it to meet the required CV

Producing clear evidence as to whether production of higher chain alkanes is technically feasible and cost effective.