Biogas/Biomethane for use as a transport fuel

Production of biogas

Biogas is a mixture of biomethane CH4 (65-70%) and CO2 (30-35%) and small amounts of other gases. It is created by anaerobic digestion of organic wastes such as sewage, manure, food wastes, landfill, etc. This is an established technology. After removal of contaminants, biomethane is the same as natural gas, and can be used as a transport fuel in the form of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

Bio-SNG (Bio Synthetic Natural Gas) is produced by gasification of lignocellulosic (woody materials). A number of Bio-SNG demonstration projects are discussed on the Bio-SNG page of this website.

Biogas may also be produced form lignocellulosic feedstocks, such as straw, following pre-treatment with steam and enzymes. See VERBIO straw project.

Anaerobic Digestion technology is well established, hence biogas is often categorised as a ‘first generation’ biofuel. However, biogas derived from organic wastes does not compete with food production, and is considered to be sustainable.


Biogas production statistics for Europe

The latest news and statistics on biogas production and use in Europe are available from the European Biogas Association website. In 2013, there were over 14500 bigas plants in Europe with an installed capacity of 7857 MW [Source: EBA website].

© Copyright 2014 European Biogas Association

In 2013, the fastest growth was seen in Central Europe: Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland where an increase of 18% in the number of biogas plants in the region was recorded. Biogas plants in UK, France and Sweden, continue to develop at a steady. However, there are concerns over foreseen changes in support schemes across Europe. The Czech Republic and Cyprus have already ceased support for biogas plants, while German and Austrian biogas plant operators are facing local caps [Source: EBA 2014].


Biomethane production statistics

Production of biomethane (cleaned biogas, which is equivalent to natural gas) is also increasing in Europe. In 2013 there were 282 plants with a total annual production of 1.303 billion m3. The number of biomethane filling stations doubled in 2013 with 10% of the total produced biomethane in Europe now used in transport [Source: EBA 2014].

biomethane production Europe 2013

© Copyright 2014 European Biogas Association


Use of biomethane in transport

Developing use of biomethane for transport is the focus of several projects such as BIOMASTER, MADEGASCAR,GasHighWay, BioGas Max, Urban Biogas, Green Gas Grids and Baltic Biogas Bus, which aim to increase its use in the market.

View presentations from the Final conference of Green Gas Grids, Urban Biogas and BIOMASTER

Biomethane for transport was also one of the options supported by the European Green Cars Initiative (a €5 billion PPP boost to the European car industry).

Biogas is used globally in waste to energy plants, and is increasingly being converted to natural gas for injection into pipelines or use in vehicles. For example, in the US, Waste Management Inc. operates 2 plants in California and Ohio (with a third announced in October 2013) to convert landfill gas to liquified natural gas. Waste Management also produces over 500 MW of electricty from biogas, and its subsidiary Wheelabrator Inc. has a capacity of almost 670 MW. Waste Managment also uses bioCNG to power a fleet of 100 trucks.

In March 2014, Waste Management Inc., Ventech Engineers International LLC, NRG Energy Inc. and Velocys plcformed a joint venture to produce renewable fuels and chemicals from biogas and natural gas using smaller-scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology. The joint venture’s first facility will be at East Oak, Oklahoma. Velocys, will supply the Fischer-Tropsch reactor and catalyst.


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