For beer and cider: How some of the CO₂ can be reused

“No beer for the EM” – with such announcements, the tabloids in the summer of 2021 frightened the British. The reason for the impending bottleneck: CO2- Scarcity, because the substance is added as carbon dioxide to beer, cider or soft drinks – for the sparkling taste experience. Otherwise, the greenhouse gas is a much sought-after product in Great Britain.

Accordingly, at 350 to 450 euros per ton, three times what was previously the norm can be achieved. “We have the new separation and storage facility for CO2 so started up at the right time, “says Sebastian Ganser. Behind the technical manager of the biogas plant Rainbarrow Farm in South West England a tanker truck drives to the still sparkling clean storage tanks. With a loud hiss, the driver connects it for filling.

The operating company of the biogas plant on Rainbarrow Farm, JV Energen, is taking on the separation, storage and marketing of so-called “Green CO2” new ways. CO2 is a waste product in the purification of biogas to bio-natural gas. Only when water vapor, sulfur and ammonia have been washed out and CO2 are deposited, the renewable energy source can be fed into the natural gas network.

So far, the greenhouse gas has mostly escaped into the atmosphere unused. Marketing as Green CO2 on the other hand, it improves the climate gas balance of the biogas plant and enables additional income.

Pure CO2 “the free market buys quickly”

The plant on Rainbarrow Farm produces 700 to 750 kilograms of CO per hour2. Due to its purity of 99.7 percent, it is suitable for food and not just for use as so-called technical CO2 for cooling, fire extinguishers or as fertilizer in greenhouses.

The two tanks, in which it is stored under a pressure of 20 bar at a temperature of minus 20 degrees, hold the production of four days. “So we can’t store a lot,” says Sebastian Ganser. They don’t have to either. “What does not go to the two regular customers, the free market quickly buys.” There are 685 biogas plants in the UK.

That is a modest number compared to around 9,600 systems in Germany. On the other hand, at ninety, the proportion of British plants that process their biogas and feed it into the grid instead of converting it into electricity in a block-type thermal power station is quite high. Ten of these systems also sell their CO2.

Most market it through French gas giant Air Liquide. The Rainbarrow Farm is different. With Biocarbonics she has a subsidiary for the marketing of her CO2 founded.

And thus again breaking new ground. “We are aiming for a producer club together with others,” says Ganser. Biocarbonics currently supplies a cider brewery and a fruit farm in the neighborhood. Even with the use of their own fermentation residues, people in tranquil Cornwall are ingenious.

The fertilizer made from it is now available in garden centers across the country. The Rainbarrow Farm has been a driver of innovation since it was founded. “Ten years ago we were the first in Great Britain with biogas processing and feed-in,” says Sebastian Ganser. “Today we supply 9,000 households in neighboring Poundbury in winter, and of course many more in summer.” Ganser looks north, nodding. There is the district of Poundbury on the outskirts of the town of Dorchester.

The model city follows the principles of sustainable design and development designed by the British heir to the throne, Prince Charles. Part of this is the requirement that at least 20 percent of the energy used must be renewable. Thanks to the Rainbarrow Farm, it is now 40 percent. The heir to the throne is also the most important shareholder in JV Energen.

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Use of bio natural gas in public transport

The biogas industry in Great Britain is not only innovative with royal support. Although the British government has hardly taken them into account in its strategy against climate change and has reduced or even canceled the feed-in tariffs for energy from biogas. The British are way ahead, for example, in the use of bio-natural gas in transport and local public transport.

Coach companies, haulage companies, large retailers and municipalities use vehicle fleets powered by bio-natural gas to decarbonise their operations. “Our bio-natural gas powered double-decker buses avoid 8,000 tons of CO2-Emissions per year compared to Euro Norm 6 diesel vehicles, “says Gary Mason of Nottingham City Transport.” In addition, 81 tons of nitrogen oxides and 1.6 tons of particulate matter are avoided. “Behind Mason, the city’s bus depot is very busy It is 7 p.m. Most of the lines in the university city are now being thinned out.

A corresponding number of vehicles are being filled. “We are compressing the bio-natural gas from the network to 300 bar so that the buses have a range of 250 miles.” Natural gas comes from a facility near the city that runs on food waste. Nottingham City Transport’s 120 double-decker buses have been running on bio natural gas since 2019. Another 23 will be added in February 2022.

Cities like Bristol are also converting their bus fleets. And they can get that with the beer in Great Britain too.

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