(Bild: © Zukunft Gas/Claudius Pflug)
The planet urgently needs negative emissions: Without rapid, active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, climate change with its devastating consequences will not be slowed down. To promote decarbonization as arguably the most important project of our generation, the German gas industry has been awarding the German Gas Industry Innovation Prize every two years since 1980.
This year’s winner in the “Sustainable Generation” category was the project of Landwärme and Reverion in Reimlingen, Bavaria. Here, an expansion is being built at the biogas upgrading plant of Landwärme that will enable the capture and final storage of CO2 (carbon capture and storage, CCS). In this way, Landwärme and Reverion are taking an effective, inexpensive and ecologically sensible approach to quickly pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere.
The basic concept is quite simple: during upgrading, i.e. the purification of biogas into biomethane, the capture of CO2 is part of the process anyway. The remaining high methane content allows it to be fed into the natural gas grid and used flexibly on a decentralized basis. In the next step, the captured CO2 is liquefied and stored – for example in deep rock layers under the sea (CCS). Alternatively, it can be used in technical applications such as fire extinguishers or in the food industry as carbon dioxide (Carbon Capture and Usage, CCU).
“CCS and CCU with biomethane can deliver immediate climate effects: Capturing CO2 is already part of biomethane production today. We’ve been doing it for years,” explains Landwärme CEO Zoltan Elek. “The clock is ticking. We need to get not only emissions down as fast as we can, but also get the CO2 that is too much in the air out of the atmosphere. That can be done cost-effectively and immediately with biomethane in combination with CCS. The CO2 content in the atmosphere is around 0.04%. Filtering CO2 out of this, for example by means of direct air capture, is very costly. It is much more effective and simpler to capture CO2 during the upgrading of biogas to biomethane. This is because it is much easier to capture it here at a CO2 content of 30-50% in the biogas. In addition, the process, which exists anyway, is already priced in. CO2 capture comes virtually free of charge. In addition, 50% of Russian natural gas imports can be replaced by biomethane and around 70 million tons of negative emissions can be generated if all biogas potentials in Germany are used by 2030,” Elek calculates.
The Reverion plant will provide the Reimlingen site with even more innovative equipment. The company combines power generation with gas processing. Part of the biogas is converted into electricity highly efficiently by means of a fuel cell. The CO2 produced in the process is recycled and captured during the existing gas treatment process. The core of the process is the combination of high-temperature solid oxide fuel cells with catalytic methanation. Among other things, the system can thus use excess electricity in the grid and generate hydrogen through electrolysis.
Stephan Herrmann, founder and CEO of Reverion, focuses precisely on this added value for a future, purely regenerative energy system:
Landwärme and Reverion’s CCS project is expected to be operational in 2023. The companies plan to capture about 10,000 tons of CO2 annually there. “All the biomethane plants in Germany that exist today could together pull 2.5 million tons of CO2 a year out of the atmosphere,” Elek points out, “With our project, we are laying the important foundation for the larger rollout and the rapid removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. This is a very good start for the fact that we don’t even have active CCS in Germany today.”
That also convinced the jury to award the project the prize.
Just in April, the project was ranked 22nd among thousands of applications worldwide in the XPRIZE Milestone Awards 2022. The XPRIZE Carbon Removal global competition, funded by the Elon Musk Foundation, supports technology projects that remove carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere. The competition is designed to run for four years and has been running since April 2021. After one year of competition, the jury on April 22, 2022, now awarded 15 Milestone Awards to the applications received so far. In 2025, the competition will end with the announcement of the final XPRIZE Carbon Removal winners. Landwärme and Reverion are also still in the running here.
RE:INVENTING ENERGY: THE GERMAN GAS INDUSTRY INNOVATION AWARD 2022
The Innovation Award of the German Gas Industry presents forward-looking energy concepts related to gas as an energy source. The prize has been awarded every two years since 1980 and is intended to highlight the potential of gaseous energy sources. Projects that develop innovative and efficient application technologies using natural gas or green gases are eligible to win.
The prize is awarded for particularly economical and energy-efficient processes or application technologies relating to the extraction, production, storage, transport or use of natural gas or green gases. The technologies must be highly innovative, use resources in a particularly sustainable manner and be pioneering in climate protection.
The jury of the Innovation Award of the German Gas Industry consists of representatives of science, trade media and associations of the German gas industry. The award is sponsored by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), the German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water (DVGW) and Zukunft Gas. The Innovation Award’s competence partner is the Association for the Economical and Environmentally Friendly Use of Energy (ASUE).
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