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Ultrasound increases the efficiency of biogas plants

Scientists in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are experimenting with an ultrasound machine that increases the energy yield of biomass. They are also planning to use plasma to further boost yields in a second phase.

22 Sep. 2018
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Ultrasound increases the efficiency of biogas plants (Photo: PRE Power Recycling Energyservice GmbH)

The Power Recycling Energy Service GmbH (PRE) in Neubrandenburg has developed an ultrasonic device, called Wave Box , which can significantly improve the energy yield of biomass. The waves generated in the box mechanically break up the cell walls of the fermentation residues, making them more accessible to bacteria. This works especially well with fibrous substrates such as corn or grass and increases the proportion of the organic matter decomposed by the bacteria from 65 to about 80%, as confirmed in several pilot plants.

In collaboration with Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology in Greifswald and the University of Rostock, PRE now plans to use plasma – in this case, ionized gas – to break up the cell walls not only mechanically but also chemically. The idea is to use this process referred to as Combi-Ma x to increase utilization of degradable organic waste to about 90%. The method could also be used to bind nitrogen in manure, thus preventing the formation of environmentally harmful ammonia. The Combi-Max process will first be tested in the laboratory; industry-related tests in a demonstration plant are planned to start in 2020.