Changing the biofuel landscape with BioLNG

Léon van Bossum's picture
Léon van Bossum, Commercial Director, Nordsol
Michiel van Aken's picture
Michiel van Aken, Technical Director, Nordsol
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The heavy transport sector is searching for ways to contribute to the energy transition. Although there are many promising technologies ahead of us, there is one that can make a drastic impact today. LNG is becoming one of the best available heavy transport fuels to support the energy transition. The use of BioLNG (Liquified Bio Methane) will aid in further reducing the CO2 footprint and will enable LNG as the future energy source for the long-haul heavy transport sector (trucks and ships).

The concept: Nordsol has developed a concept producing BioLNG out of organic waste streams. After several years of product development, Nordsol is ready to roll out its unique BioLNG proposition on a commercial scale. The concept combines its smart patented technology, fixed long-term offtake contracts from global LNG traders and financial backing from a strategic investor (Shell Ventures). With the support of biogas producers, Nordsol will Build, Own, Operate and Maintain (BOOM) the BioLNG facilities. This will ensure a solid business case driven by market demand and the ability to compete with declining and evolving subsidy incentives.

The commitment to make BioLNG mainstream as a clean and safe advanced biofuel that is widely available at an affordable price is based on the vision that sheer market force will drive the energy transition towards more sustainable fuel sources. Nordsol aims to strategically enable this transition.

The strategic role of biogas in the energy transition: BioLNG or Liquified Biomethane (LBM) is a biofuel made by processing organic waste flows. Biogas develops when develops when anaerobic digestion occurs; biological matter breaks down and gas is emitted in the process. BioLNG in combination with retrieving BioCO2 during the production process is practically CO2 neutral and has all the advantages of LNG versus diesel, including:

  • Reduced CO2 emission
  • Lower engine sound
  • Lower NOx
  • Significantly less pm (particulate matter) emission

In the energy transition, biogas competes with solar and wind energy when used for combined heat and power generation (CHP), whereas electricity plays a significant role as a transition energy for households, the industry and private transportation. However, this does not work for heavy transport trucking and shipping, which is why LNG is the new standard. Strategically, biogas can best be committed to LNG to benefit the energy transition for the heavy transport sector, and this is exactly where biogas can play a more beneficial role. With the purpose of BioLNG, the value creation of biogas will be upgraded to a higher level.

Unique technology: In the gas processing industry, it is generally considered impossible to apply simple and cost-effective membrane gas separation directly upstream of liquefaction of natural gas or biogas to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or Liquid Bio Methane (LBM). The fundamental issue is that membrane gas separation is only efficient for bulk removal of contaminants, whereas only traces of contaminants like CO2 and water are allowed in the treated gas prior to liquefaction.

Nordsol has developed an integrated system of biogas treating and liquefaction to BioLNG, branded as iLNG. The iLNG process scheme is still based on standard membranes, yet with a huge improvement of membrane performance by the patented ’Flash-2-Sweep’ configuration. This is combined with a CO2 tolerant liquefaction and end-flash system, based on 3-phase separation in one vessel; ‘Cryo-3-Flash’. Consequently, the process line-up is simplified, with no:

  • Heat demand
  • Batch processes
  • Absorbents
  • Chemicals
  • Wet gas streams
  • Liquid waste streams being involved.

The concept allows processing of a wide range of gas composition, has a low equipment count and is safe and simple to operate. This allows the production of LBM locally and efficiently from raw biogas at an extremely small, yet economical scale.

BioLNG Euronet: The need for BioLNG is supported by the BioLNG Euronet project which is bringing together major industry players in the market: Shell, Scania, IVECO, DISA and Nordsol. The consortium will each deliver separate activities that will see 2,000 more LNG trucks on the road, 39 LNG fueling stations and the construction of a BioLNG production plant.

BioLNG EuroNet will help with decarbonising heavy-duty road transport across Europe by developing a European Network for LNG covering the key Commercial Road Transport routes in Europe. The stations will be located approximately every 400 km along core road network corridors from Spain to eastern Poland and the network will be used to demonstrate the commercial-scale deployment of BioLNG produced from waste and residues (see www.biolngeuronet.eu).

Search for biogas producers: Nordsol’s aim is for biogas producers who share the vision that the impact on the energy transition should be directly linked to a market-driven valuation of the biogas. Each biogas producer, depending on its origin, has different drivers. The added value of the Nordsol concept relates to:

  1. BioLNG versus diesel: Reduced CO2 footprint (-80%), particulate matter (-90%), NOx (-35%) and engine sound emissions (-85%)
  2. Local social impact due to the independence of subsidy budgets, improved local health and support of the local circular economy
  3. Competitive valuation of biogas with long term offtake volumes and pricing

BioLNG will be an attractive solution for biogas ranging from 350 Nm3/hr to 2500 Nm3/hr.

          

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Image courtesy of Nordsol