In the summer of 2020, the German plant manufacturer Weltec Biopower will start building a biogas plant in Veria, northern Greece. The main investor and operator of the project is one of the largest abattoirs for cattle and pigs in Greece. The 500-kW plant – which Weltec has planned in collaboration with its Greek partner Tetoros Machinery in Megara – is set to go live as early as mid-November 2020.
For many years, a lot of animal waste has accumulated in the north of Greece. According to the Greek research institute CRES, the waste from animal husbandry and slaughtering throughout Greece amounts to 17.5 million t/year. This corresponds to a potential biogas capacity of approximately 370 MW. The capacity currently installed in Greece is only about 83 MW.
The new Weltec plant in Veria will make use part of these resources for the generation of energy. The anaerobic digestion process will mainly use cattle manure and meat processing leftovers. Apart from these substrates, the 4,903-m3 stainless-steel digester will also be fed with production wastewater and fats. The input substances will come from the operator’s own abattoir and farms as well as from farmers in the vicinity.
The highly efficient digestion will start with a customised input process. For this purpose, the substrates will first be loaded into a 60-m3 moving floor feeder. The feeder will transport solid substrates, such as orange peels, to the Multi-Mix unit, where they will shredded and then pumped to the digester. Liquid substrates will be pumped directly into the digester from two storage units. “Following the digestion process, the entire digestate will be treated in a downstream hygienisation unit”, explains Alain Priser, International Sales Manager at Weltec Biopower.
Meanwhile, Greek investors are looking for such custom-tailored plants in order to make profitable and climate-neutral use of the wide variety of raw materials. This is the only way how the share of renewable energies in the power generation can be doubled from the current level of 30 percent to 60 percent in 2030. This target was defined in National Energy and Climate Plan 2021 to 2030 (NECP) adopted by Greece. An intermediate step will be to shut down 14 coal-fired power plants in the next five years. Besides natural gas, renewable energies are to play a key role in closing the resulting power supply gap.
In the coming decade, Greece will invest some €9 billion in such plants. During this period, the installed biogas and biomass utilisation capacity is expected to triple. In this process, new laws are to provide investment security. “The Greek power grid operators will be required to preferentially connect these plants to the grid, purchase their electricity and pay defined minimum prices”, explains Weltec’s Greek partner John Tetoros. Tetoros Machinery and Weltec Biopower have collaborated in the Greek energy reform since 2007. With a portfolio of 18 plants and extensions that they have set up, they are the market leader for biogas plants in Greece. Based on the concept of the latest plant in Veria, more plants are likely to be added to the portfolio.
Regenerative storage power plant
ETW Energietechnik expands biogas plant
In Wehrbleck in Lower Saxony, the company ETW Energietechnik from Moers expanded an agricultural biogas plant into a regenerative storage power plant in 2019. The CHP experts were supported by the planning company Energethik from Osnabrück. In addition to the new Flex CHP with the TCG 2020 V20 biogas engine from MWM with 2 megawatts, electric and 2.3 megawatts, thermally, ETW also installed a combined gas storage tank with 8,490 and a heat storage tank with 1,000 cubic metres. The total investment amounts to 1.6 million euros.
Since 2001, farmer Andreas Rohlfs has been operating a biogas plant with an area of around 235 hectares. Based on the input materials maize, dung and liquid manure, the operator generated around 5.4 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy and 4.1 million kilowatt hours of thermal energy before the expansion. Since its expansion into a storage power plant, the plant now produces 5.7 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy and almost 5.8 million kilowatt hours of heat per year. The electricity is fed into the grid; the waste heat is fed into a district heating network for heating private and municipal buildings and is used to dry wood chips. Part of the heat is diverted to keep the engine warm when it is not running. This allows the direct marketer to quickly restart the engine if necessary and immediately access the full output of the CHP.
In addition to the increase in output, the plant now operates flexibly. In return, Rohlfs will earn an additional flexibility surcharge of 40 euros per kilowatt over the next five years. Afterwards, the farmer can optionally apply for a further ten-year EEG payment by means of a tender. His main advantage: thanks to the Flex CHP, his plant is now operated in such a way that electricity and heat can always be fed in at the most productive time of day. For this purpose, the biogas plant is controlled by a direct marketer in such a way that the storage tanks are always optimally filled when prices are at their highest and that the largest possible quantities of electricity and heat are available for this purpose.
The plant is powered by desulphurised biogas. For this purpose, the sulphur content is conditioned down from around 5,000 parts per million (ppm) to around 2 ppm. A safety alarm with integrated stop of the gas supply to the storage protects the CHP at a sulphur content above 2 ppm. This is particularly necessary because the sulphur content can rise faster in flex operation. After the preventive shutdown, operation of the engine is maintained with the gas from the storage tank.
„In order to be prepared for future NOx limits, ETW has already reserved the necessary space on the CHP container for an SCR catalytic converter. The plans also take into account a reserve for exhaust back pressure,“ explains Alexander Szabo, the responsible sales manager at ETW Energietechnik.
The variation of the substrate quantities also contributes to the flexibility of the CHP operation. This makes it possible to reduce biogas production at low electricity prices so that the CHP unit can be shut down for up to two days if necessary without overloading the gas storage tank. The heat storage tank can store 40,600 kilowatt hours of thermal energy and thus supply the heating network for around 50 hours without the CHP unit having to be put into operation. The bottom line is that the CO2 savings achieved by the regenerative storage power plant in electricity production can be estimated at 2,683 tonnes per year and in heat production, including process heat, at around 1,300 tonnes.
Two additional production halls
Expansion of capacities for the production of consumables
The Eppendorf Group is expanding its production capacity at the Oldenburg in Holstein site in Germany by building two additional production halls. As a result, Eppendorf Polymere GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eppendorf AG, will increase its total capacity by around 30 percent from 2021. A milestone for this targeted expansion was reached May 14, 2020 with the topping-out ceremony for the second hall currently under construction. The first hall has already been completed and will start production operations this month.
In Oldenburg, Eppendorf produces laboratory consumables made of high-quality plastic such as pipette tips and tubes, microtiter plates and single-use bioreactor vessels. Currently, these products are in particularly high demand from diagnostic laboratories and vaccine manufacturers around the world who are researching vaccines against the corona virus or carrying out Sars Cov-2 tests.
“We are registering a steady increase in demand for consumables from Eppendorf. The current global battle against the corona virus is just reinforcing this trend,” says Dr. Wilhelm Plüster, Chief Technology Officer at Eppendorf AG. “With the construction of the two new production halls we are responding to this trend, which has been continuing for years. In addition, sustainability was taken into account in the construction of the buildings.” continues Plüster. The two production halls will be heated and cooled by an existing combined heat and power plant. This will considerably reduce energy consumption.
Merck, a science and technology company, unveiled the next component of its Bio Continuum Platform, the Bio4C Software Suite, creating a first-of-its-kind ecosystem that combines process control, analytics and plant-level automation. This transformative software suite will allow users to look across the entire manufacturing process versus individual operational units, giving biomanufacturers complete process control and deep insights, bringing Bioprocessing 4.0 to the here and now.
“The future of bioprocessing is holistic,” said Andrew Bulpin, head of Process Solutions, Life Science, at Merck. “With the launch of our Bio4C Software Suite, Merck is the first supplier to converge advanced process technologies with software, automation and analytics into one ecosystem, bringing us another step closer to making the digitally enabled facility of the future a reality.”
Biopharmaceutical companies today are under immense pressure to get products to market faster, with every day of delay costing millions in lost revenue. An emerging solution is the integration of software, automation and analytics into biomanufacturing facilities’ operations to intensify biologic production, with a vision toward connected and continuous processing. The biopharmaceutical industry is on a journey to evolve and digitize the next generation of bioprocessing to increase speed and lower costs. Bioprocessing 4.0 signifies this new approach to manufacturing. The Life Science business of Merck has been a key driver of this evolution through its Bio Continuum Platform.
Merck’s Bio4C Suite was designed based on the “4C strategy” of its Life Science business: control, connect, collect and collaborate. Control is the basis of everything Merck does to run all of its systems. Connect refers to making digital connections between different process steps and giving that visibility to the entire process. Collect is the ability to gather all data into one place and maintain and validate the integrity of that data. Collaborate is how Merck will deliver these technologies to its customers in real time.
Bio4C ProcessPad, part of the “Collect” dimension of the Bio4C Suite, is a browser-based platform that allows users to acquire, aggregate and analyze data from disparate sources such as equipment, batch records, databases and historians across the bioprocess. The Bio4C ProcessPad automates the data acquisition and analysis tasks, freeing scientists and engineers to minimize the time to decision and action. Merck will roll out further Bio4C Software Suite products and modules throughout 2020 and into the future.