Germany's renewable fuels firm VERBIO starts up biogas plant

02 March 2011 18:55  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--VERBIO has started up a biogas plant in Germany’s eastern Brandenburg state that converts byproduct from ethanol production into gas, the renewable fuels producer said on Wednesday.

The plant at VERBIO’s site in Schwedt was part of the company’s strategy to minimise carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, it said.

The unit would produce biomethane and had an initial capacity of 30 megawatts (MW), but that could be expanded to 75MW, the company said.

“Our new technology will revolutionise biogas production,” CEO Claus Sauter said.

“Our ‘VERBIOgas’ is the solution for making biofuels a viable replacement for fossil fuels in environmental and economic terms,” he added.

Key feedstocks for the plant were a byproduct from ethanol production, “Schlempe” (distillers dried grain with solubles, or DDGS) and straw, the company said.

“No foodstuffs are used in [the biogas] production,” it added.

VERBIO said the integrated bioethanol production at Schwedt – consisting of a bioethanol plant, a biogas plant and a biofertilizer plant – involved multiple utilisations of raw materials, which, in the process, would be “almost entirely converted into energy”.

At the same time, VEBRIO’s biofuels achieved a greenhouse gas reduction of up to 90% compared with gasoline.

VERBIO planned to expand its biogas production at Schwedt and at Zorbig, in Saxony-Anhalt state, to 2,000 gigawatt hours by 2015, it said.

Germany’s federal environment minister Norbert Rottgen, who attended the official start-up of the biogas plant at Schwedt, said VERBIO’s technology could help the country achieve its targets for expanding renewable energy while avoiding a conflict between bioenergy and food production.

A VERBIO spokesperson had told ICIS previously that some competitors were converting the DDGS byproduct into animal feed, but that was a very energy- and emissions-intensive process that VERBIO chose not to adopt.

Bookmark Doris de Guzman’s Green Chemicals Blog for independent thinking on green chemicals

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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