UT researchers Frieder Mugele and Wim Brilman received a Demonstrator grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to build a pilot plant that can separate biogas into carbon dioxide and pure bio-methane. In the plant, the researchers use a material they developed that allows better and cheaper separation than existing technologies.
The production of biogas releases both carbon dioxide and methane. The biomethane is useful as a renewable fuel, among other things, but the carbon dioxide makes the gas less useful. Therefore, the gas needs to be purified. This is currently still done with, for example, membranes or other materials that can capture carbon dioxide, but these techniques are expensive and require a lot of energy.
Mugele and Brilman's teams have developed a new material that they make from the clay type Bentonite. This is the same clay from which cat pellets are made. Using small, positively charged particles, the researchers from Twente ensure that the spaces in the clay are just the right size. The spaces must be large enough for carbon dioxide to fit between them, but not the larger methane molecules.
That the material can efficiently capture carbon dioxide has already been demonstrated in the lab, but with the pilot plant, the researchers now want to see if it also succeeds on a larger scale. "We will test at the scale of an individual farm and under realistic conditions," says Mugele. "We want to purify hundreds of kilos of biogas per day." By 2025, the plant should be built and the first test results available.
The Demonstrator grant is a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to apply knowledge from research and bring it to the market. The aim of the funding is to further develop scientific knowledge into a pilot plant (Demonstrator) that makes the knowledge attractive to the market. Prof. Dr. Frieder Mugele is a professor in the Physics of Complex Fluids (PCF) department. Prof. Dr. Wim Brilman is a professor in the Department of Sustainable Process Technology (SPT; both TNW faculty).