Biogas in a Million City

During the spring we have arranged three workshops within the short BRC project “Biogas in a million city”. A report with the results from the project will be published in the beginning of the autumn.

Project leader Roozbeh Feiz gives us a brief overview of the results that will be presented.

The Biogas in a Million City project has provided a comprehensive view of the benefits of implementing biogas production based on the Nordic Model in a large city or region. Based on the availability of organic wastes in the city (or region) we have quantified and qualified four main types of benefits related to (1) producing and using biogas as a renewable fuel (2) producing and using digestate as renewable fertilizer and soil enhancer, (3) using anaerobic digestion to avoid poor waste management alternatives, and (4) other indirect and broader benefits for the city and region. Our priority is to provide simple and scientifically sound messages about the benefits of biogas solutions in a city so that interested actors can use them in their communication with their stakeholders, customers, and public relations.

Waste and biogas focus on workshop with American delegation

In the end of May a delegation of American city representatives visited Smart City Sweden and was able to see different best practice in Stockholm and in Helsingborg. As a part of the visit, the delegation visited Linköping digitally to learn more about biogas production and nutrient recycling – where they met both Tekniska Verken and BRC.

The represented cities at the visit were New York City, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cuyahoga County, Boston, Winchester, Seattle, Chula Vista, Boulder and Washington DC.

Read more about the visit here.

Dewater the digestate and recirculate part of the solids back to the biogas reactor!

Anaerobic digester units at wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) account for approximately half of the existing biogas production facilities in Sweden and their existing capacity can be used for more biogas production through co-digestion of energy-rich organic wastes. In this context, waste lipids are regarded as attractive co-substrates because of their high methane potential and energy density.

However, formation of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) during anaerobic degradation of waste lipids and potential inhibitory effects on methanogenic activity make the use of waste lipids uncertain and challenging.

A new study from BRC shows that effluent solids recirculation improves microbial long-chain fatty acids degradation capacity, providing possibilities for co-digestion of larger amounts of waste lipids with municipal sludge.

Read more: “Effluent solids recirculation to municipal sludge digesters enhances long-chain fatty acids degradation capacity”

How green are renewable fuels?

BRC’s researchers have studied how the climate impact from different fuels is affected by the amount of electricity used in its production, and by how the electricity has been produced. This becomes very important if you analyze the climate impact of the fuel with a life-cycle perspective. Even if the emissions from a vehicle are small, or even zero, the climate impact may have been extensive when the electricity was produced.

– It is not enough to replace all cars with electric cars to have a sustainable transport system. How electricity is produced is just as important, but it is often forgotten. Ideally, you should also look at the electrical system first, before changing vehicles, says Marcus Gustafsson, associate professor and main author of the article.

The study compares the climate impact from a number of common energy carriers on three types of vehicles with slightly different driving cycles. In all the scenarios studied, biogas show the best outcome in terms of minimal negative climate effects – not electricity.

Read the full article about Marcus’ work here (in swedish)

If you want to read the scientific article, click here.

BRC newsletter no. 8/2021

We have published the first BRC newsletter of 2021. Click on the image below to get to newsletter no. 8/2021 (in Swedish).

Our idea is to provide a way for you to keep up informed on interesting upcoming and last activities carried out  in BRC.

Here you will also find all our previous newsletters during the ongoing stage.

Have a nice reading!

New BRC report – institutional conditions for biogas

BRC research area 6 (FO6) aims to investigate and develop an overview of biogas policies and policy instruments in Sweden and abroad, and to contribute to a better understanding of the effects of policy measures and frameworks on the development of biogas solutions. The work in FO6 have now resulted in a report about the institutional conditions for biogas.

The production and use of biogas has increased strongly on a global level over the last decades. Many studies estimate the untapped potential to be considerably larger than the current production. A continued expansion will however require great efforts by several actors, and such a mobilization usually requires favorable institutional conditions. Well-designed policies and policy instruments can create good conditions for the biogas sector to grow, while a weak and vague policy framework can impede the development.

Thanks to the broad impact that biogas has on society, there are policies influencing biogas solutions in different ways within many different areas and on many different levels. In addition, policies and policy instruments are more or less variable over time. This makes the policy landscape of biogas rather complex and difficult to overview. The fact that biogas policies exist within many different areas means that biogas solutions risk being considered “somebody else’s problem” and that the government of biogas becomes indistinct and ineffective. Coordinating efforts within biogas policy and creating favorable conditions is thus not an easy task. Moreover, there is no uniform way of categorizing and defining biogas policies, where they exist and in what way they influence biogas solutions. In the first part of this report, a model describing the dimensions and characteristics of biogas solutions is presented. The proposed model consists of five dimensions: type of policy, administrative area of the policy, administrative level, part of the value chain that is influenced, and temporal change and continuity. The model expresses a previously untold story of how policies influence biogas solutions, which can contribute to an increased understanding of how biogas policies work and should be designed to promote the development of biogas solutions.

Sweden is far ahead when it comes to use of biogas, but can have reason to learn from other countries when it comes to policies to support the domestic production of biogas. The second part of this report gives a summary of the biogas development and biogas policies in Sweden and eight other countries: Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Canada, Norway, Czech Republic and Germany. Biogas solutions have developed in different ways in different countries, as a results of variations in terms of conditions, needs, political development and tradition. In comparison with the selected countries, Sweden’s biogas production per capita is not very high, and the development has not indicated any noticeable increase in recent years.

Sweden was early in producing upgraded biogas for vehicles, but the previously steady rise in production has now stagnated. Meanwhile, both the biogas production and the interest in green vehicle gas is increasing in other parts of the world. A significant part of the biogas used in Sweden is produced in Denmark, which means that the benefits of biogas production in terms of waste management, nutrient recycling and employment end up in our neighboring country. Many of the compared countries have shown great increase in biogas production in relatively short time, even though in some cases it has stagnated following policy changes. The comparison also makes it clear that Sweden employs unusually short time horizons for support systems—seldom more than one or a few years—while they in other countries can extend up to 20 years. A learning from this can be that more long-term planning of the institutional conditions for biogas is required to achieve a significant increase of biogas production.

Read the report here (in Swedish) BRC report 2021-4 FO6

New publication from BRC

Combining a spatial optimization model and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) BRCs researchers explore how Sweden could maximize its use of excreta resources and better match the nutrients’ supply and demand while producing renewable energy (biogas) as well.

Geneviève S. Metson, Roozbeh Feiz, Nils-Hassan Quttineh, and Karin Tonderski.

Abstract: A circular biobased economy must be able to sustainably manage multiple resources simultaneously. Nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) recycling and renewable energy production(biogas) can be compatible practices but require substantial transport of heavy organic waste. We combine a spatial optimization model and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to explore how Sweden could maximize its use of excreta resources. We use 10×10 km2resolution data on the location of animal and human excreta and crop demand and model both optimal biogas plant locations and transport of nutrients to and from these plants. Each type of biogas plant (given 4 realistic mixes of excreta) is then evaluated for global warming potential, primary energy use and financial resource costs. Moving excreta through biogas plants, as opposed to simply reapplying on fields, to meet crop nutrient demands comes at a similar cost but the climate and primary energy savings are substantial. As much as 91% of phosphorus and 44% of nitrogen crop demand could be met via optimally transported excreta and the country would avoid about 1 450 kt of CO2-eq, save3.6 TWh (13 000 tera-joules) of primary energy, and save 90 million euros per year. Substituting mineral fertilizers with recycled nutrients results in savings across all indicators, but the added energy and avoided greenhouse gas emissions associated with biogas production make a large difference in the attractiveness of nutrient recycling. Although the numeric values are theoretical, our results indicate that carefully coordinated and supported biogas production could help maximizemulti-resource benefits.

Read the article by clicking on the image: