There’s so much to be proud of in our region. In Forsbacka five kilometres west of Sandviken, Gästrike Ekogas produces biogas in the world’s largest horizontal thermophilic plug flow plant for dry fermentation .
Jonas Hellström, the MD for Ekogas’ new plant in Forsbacka explains the concept.
The biogas we produce in Forsbacka comes mainly from leftover products from household and garden waste. Once we’ve passed the waste through our processes we get biogas that can be used as vehicle fuel, and also as an excellent high-nutrient fertiliser that farmers can use instead of the fertiliser that is used today.
There are several factors that are unique.
We have the capacity to produce 2.7 million cubic metres of biogas here. There won’t be a need for that amount locally, so we’re also looking at transporting it to other refuelling stations to start with.
Yes absolutely. It has previously been used for heat and electricity generation, which doesn’t require such a high level of methane as when the gas is used as vehicle fuel. That avoids the need for what is known as upgrading, or cleaning of the gas after digestion. It’s in the transportation sector that biogas has the most beneficial impact on the environment though, so that’s what we’re focusing on.
Mostly for the sake of the environment. Since we use waste to make it, biogas is a part of a natural lifecycle. It is completely carbon dioxide neutral and emits significantly less nitrogen, soot and sulphur than normal petrol and diesel cars, and also compared to environmental cars. You also profit financially as it’s approximately 20 per cent less than diesel and petrol.
The are both larger and smaller tanks of course, but the tank in a regular Passat holds about 21 kilos of gas, which means about 400-500 km of driving, just on biogas.
We really are at the leading edge in Sweden, so around Stockholm and further south there are plenty of fuelling stations. There are fewer in the north, with the nearest station in Sundsvall. There are also stations in Östersund, Härnösand, Skellefteå and Boden, so you can get where you’re going with a bit of planning. There are more and more stations opening every year however. In the rest of Europe it’s actually Italy that has the most, closely followed by Germany.
Yes, firstly it takes up a lot of space, and secondly production is currently still expensive. We compress the gas here in our plant from 3-4 bar to 200 bar, before it gets transported to the fuelling station in Sörby Urfjäll. There’s also a tank that contains liquid methane at a temperature as low as -160°C, which makes it liquid. It’s a fairly expensive process, but the gas takes up about 600 times as much space than the liquid form. This is only going to be used as back up in case we have problems with the regular production.
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