The future of energy: biogas

The production of methane from renewable sources is helping to smooth the transition towards a greener future. With its high number of farms, Italy has the potential to become a major producer of sustainable energy thanks to biogas. Biogas production is a real opportunity for growth and development, with benefits for production and the economy.

A biogas-fired cogeneration plant produces electrical and thermal energy from organic plant materials, animal waste, household organic waste and water purification. A biogas plant therefore offers a twofold advantage:

  • On the one hand, it produces energy more efficiently than the conventional separate generation of energy and heat;
  • On the other hand, it offers a way to monetise materials that are considered waste.

What is biogas?

One of the most commonly used sources of renewable energy is biogas, which also represents an interesting growth and development opportunity for many farms, by providing a monetisable use for their waste materials. Biogas is produced through the anaerobic fermentation (i.e. in the absence of oxygen) of biomass by naturally occurring micro-organisms. Every aspect of the process, from temperature to humidity level, must be controlled and monitored to ensure that biogas production occurs with minimal losses.

The types of biomass most commonly used for methane production include:

  • agricultural residues, such as pruning waste or straw;
  • wood obtained from pruning and woodland maintenance;
  • organic matter of animal original;
  • fruit and vegetable waste generated by the agri-food sector.

From this waste,  two important materials are obtained:

  • biogas, a source of renewable energy that can be converted into energy and heat by a cogenerator;
  • digestate, which can be recycled and used as natural fertiliser for crops.

The role of telehandlers in a biogas plant

Biogas production is a long process that varies depending on the type of biomass used.

The first stage of biogas production is the collection of agricultural waste. The biomass must be transported to silos to carry out the anaerobic digestion process, which can be dry (minimum solid biomass content of 30%) or wet (minimum solids content of 10–15%).
In this stage it is very important to have the availability of agile, powerful and multifunctional vehicles, which can speed up the work cycles.
Also for the production of methane from renewable sources, choosing to use telescopic handlers can prove to be an excellent investment in terms of time and money: the collection, transport and storage of biomass can be accomplished easily by DIECI agricultural vehicles equipped with buckets for handling materials.

DIECI telehandlers are designed and produced to be multifunctional, making them an indispensable resource for any production sector. Equipped with fixed or rotating boom, with different dimensions, reach heights and load capacities, DIECI telehandlers meet all needs for handling, lifting and travelling in confined spaces, offering consistently modular, safe and high-strength solutions.
Thanks to its load capacity, for example, a telehandler can transport bulky loads, depositing them where they are needed and shortening work cycles.

Cogeneration: producing energy from biogas

The material is then transferred via pumps and pipes to digesters, where it is continuously mixed, producing biogas that contains 50–70% methane and 30–50% CO2.

Before being used for energy and heat production, the biogas is stored and treated to eliminate impurities by means of several procedures, namely:

  • removal of the carbon dioxide component;
  • desulphurisation, cooling and dehumidification, which are recommended to avoid problems during the cogeneration process;
  • filtration through gravel and sand.

Once ready, the biogas is collected inside the cogenerator. This is where the process of energy production takes place, thanks to an endothermic (internal combustion) engine. The energy can be:

  • electric energy, which powers the plant itself, with any surplus being sold back to the utility grid;
  • thermal energy, used for heating the buildings and keeping the digester at a constant temperature.

The electrical energy generated can be partly sold to the mains electricity grid and partly used to power the plant itself.

The thermal energy can likewise be used partly to heat appliances and for industrial processes, and partly for the digester (in which the biomass must be kept at a constant temperature).

The advantages of producing green energy 

A biogas cogeneration plant offers numerous benefits:

  • economic benefits due to the savings made by generating electricity from biomass, since it reduces the use of fossil fuels and exploits an otherwise unused and unprofitable material;
  • avoids the problems of storing and disposing of organic waste;
  • reduces the environmental impact of energy production and organic waste by-products.

Why choose DIECI telehandlers for biogas production?

For methane production, the new AGRI REVOLUTION range  is the ideal solution, delivering better-than-ever reliability, efficiency and comfort thanks to the upgraded design and instruments and the introduction of futuristic, patented innovations. New Stage V engines, 360° suspended cab and new interior, more intuitive and functional diagnostics and controls, new chassis and new transmissions, bring tomorrow’s agricultural telehandlers into the field today.