From waste to methane: Grupo Gimeno’s agro-industrial biogas and renewable gas projects

Faced with the new challenges and challenges facing the development of renewable gas, Gimeno Group Appreciate its advanced technology in water treatment in the food industry, waste recovery and biomethane production. With four industrial biogas plants currently under construction or built during the year, two biogas-biomethane enrichment plants and several agro-industrial biogas projects in the start-up phase, Grupo Gimeno is a solvent position in the biogas and renewable gas sector , through consultancy BIOVIC and the construction and service company CETRA.

After a long time lagging behind other European countries, The biogas and biomethane sector is experiencing a boom in Spain with numerous projects under study, development and construction.

Renewable gas is essential to achieve Europe’s decarbonisation goals by 2050. Our energy model needs gas for many uses. The production of goods for our daily consumption, from ceramics to beer, passing through fertilizers, requires industrial processes where gas is essential.

The European Commission has proposed a plan to make Europe independent of Russian fossil fuels well before 2030, starting with gas, taking into account the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It concerns REPowerEUo joint European action for more accessible, safe and sustainable energy, reaching 35 billion cubic meters of biomethane in Europe by 2030.

The most relevant part of the biogas generation potential in Spain is found in agro-industrial sector, the one whose raw material is in the waste of the agri-food industry or farmers. And it is here Grupo Gimeno offers the most complete solutions, through SITRA and BIOVIC.

SITRA is a national reference company specialized in the integral water cycle in industry. It was born in the year 2000 within FACSA with the aim of bringing our vocation for the management of the integral water cycle to industry. With the unbeatable guarantee offered by over 145 years of experience in water treatment, it began its journey in the industrial sector and, since then, we have maintained the same goal: “excellence in customer service”.

Currently SITRA is one of the leading companies at national level in the industrial water treatment and purification sector, providing the best technical solutions, both in the treatment of water used for industrial processes and purification, and in the treatment of industrial wastewater and regeneration systems. , applying a high technological development and experience supported by over 250 references.

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For its part, BIOVIC is a company founded in 2009 which was recently integrated into Grupo Gimeno as a division of renewable gases. B.IOVIC has participated in the design, construction and management of over 50 biogas plants, incorporating some of them update.

Industrial water treatment. Great potential for biogas production

SITRA designs and manufactures technologies for the treatment of industrial wastewater and biogas. This type of anaerobic reactor is very useful in industries such as food, paper, beer, beverages, chemicals and flavorings and fragrances. The company designs and manufactures various types of reactors, from UASB systems to state-of-the-art EGSB or IR type reactors.

Currently SITRA has completed the construction of a plant for an agri-food industry in Murcia with a capacity of 7.5 Tm COD / day and with a biogas production of 100 Nm3 / h and three other plants are under construction with capacities between 12 and 25 Tm COD / day and with a production of biogas between 150 and 350 Nm3 / h in sectors such as paper and agri-food.

References in upgrading from biogas to biomethane

With a biomethane enrichment plant built with its partners Bright Biomethane located in Vila-sana and two other additional projects under construction (and numerous in the pipeline and development), offer solutions for the correct implementation of renewable gas projects. Activities range from choosing the best technology configuration to operation and maintenance, including advising customers to find the best possible buyer for their renewable gas.

An example of this is the project launched by the Vallès Oriental Waste Management Consortium and the Besòs Tordera Consortium, which leads the Project BioVO to obtain biomethane. This is a unique and pioneering project in Spain, where biomethane produced by a WWTP and that of a waste treatment plant will be combined. The proximity between the two structures and the biomethane injection point makes it possible to carry out this project and make the most of the resources generated, while reducing the carbon footprint in the atmosphere.

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This structure mainly consists of a biogas purification and purification plant, with membrane technology, a gas holder with a capacity of 1,250 m3 and a biomethane injection module into the natural gas network.

On the other hand, BIOVIC is overseeing another one renewable agro-industrial gas production project in the Murcia regionin a biogas plant for the treatment of waste from the agri-food industry, which will process 400 Nm3 / h of biogas in the first phase and 700 Nm3 / h in its expansion, and which will inject biomethane into the gas distribution network.

What do we do with the digestate? The answer in fertilizer

The Achilles heel of anaerobic digestion projects is often in the digestate management.

Anaerobic digestion is an efficient and proven process for reducing organic load, odors, pathogens or emissions, but sometimes it is not a permanent solution to the waste problem.

It is crucial that the implementation of biogas projects be associated with a complete solution for digestate management, which will always be a site-specific solution, such as:

  • The digestate, despite having a series of common characteristics, presents a great variability derived from the different raw materials of origin.
  • It is essential to seek balance with the agro-zootechnical ecosystem in which the plant is located. There will be areas with nutrient surpluses and cases where local agriculture will continue to import huge quantities of fertilizer.
  • Various inputs of fertilizers will be required, which in their composition and presentation will vary considerably according to the geographical location, the type of crop, the type of soil, agricultural practices and even the phenological state of the crop.

There are several aspects that are changing the rules of the game:

  • Changes in the agricultural sector, where the importance of organic fertilization is increasing, and not only for specific sectors such as organic farming, but in more traditional forms of cultivation. Fertilization exclusively based on agricultural chemicals is the past.
  • The European Union is approving a series of measures related to the circular economy package, promoting the reuse of our waste and by-products in the production of fertilizers.
  • The recent crisis in Ukraine highlights the risks of relying on energy sources and fertilizers from abroad.
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SITRA has a great experience with digestate concentration and treatment technologies, from evaporation to composting or membranes. These fertilizer production technologies are being tested in the municipality of Vall d’Uixó, evaluating the digestates of a multi-residue agro-industrial biogas plant.

An example of this type of project would be the The Montagut organic fertilizer initiatives, conceived by BIOVIC, which will carry out two ambitious waste management projects, including digestion, composting and heat treatment technologies, in the municipalities of Llutxent (Valencia) and Almansa (Albacete), which will treat over 400,000 tons of waste and produce more than 100 GWh of biogas. These projects have an innovative component which is the treatment of the liquid fraction of the digestate by means of a reverse osmosis process to concentrate the nutrients contained and thus formulate a liquid fertilizer with high added value, thus returning the nutrients from the residual sources to the soil. , clearly contributing to the circular economy. Both solid and liquid fertilizers suitable for drip irrigation will be produced.

A holistic view

Grupo Gimeno is the best partner that an agri-food industry, a waste manager or a biogas developer can have to undertake a renewable gas project.

The experience of a group with more than 145 years of history in water treatment is combined with modern references in agro-industrial digestion, waste treatment, biomethane production or digestate recovery. Knowing the entire value chain of the industry and addressing the challenges that each of the phases entails is essential to ensure its success.

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