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Ductor commission "revolutionary" biogas technology pilot in Finland

Finland-headed fermentation technology developer Ductor Oy has disclosed that the first biogas plant equipped with Ductor's proprietary nitrogen control and phosphorus recovery process technology was put into use in Tuorla, Finland in late November. The demonstration plant is capable of treating 1 400 tonnes of poultry manure annually to produce 266 000 Nm3 of biogas, 115 tonnes of ammonium sulfate, and 640 tonnes of solid organic phosphorus fertilizer.

A biogas plant layout with Ductor’s proprietary nitrogen-control technology add-on step (illustration courtesy Ductor).

According to the company, its proprietary nitrogen-control technology harnesses the power of underutilized bio-waste such as poultry manure by preventing ammonia inhibition in biogas production to provide clean, renewable energy as well as organic fertilizers.

The biological method developed and patented by Ductor eliminates the nitrogen dilemma by turning problem waste into profitable recyclable goods. Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental Safety and Energy Technology (Fraunhofer UMSICHT), part of the Germany-headed Fraunhofer group, has been supporting the development of technology for removing ammonia since 2013.

Here, the process principle and the results of the pilot plant in Helsinki were evaluated. From the results so far, it can be concluded that the technology will work. The process development of Ductor, in my opinion, is very professional and has covered all the necessary steps, from laboratory tests to the development of a semi-industrial test facility, up to the first plant on an industrial scale which was erected in Tuorla, said Joachim Krassowski, Group Manager of Energy Supply Systems at Fraunhofer UMSICHT.

Global market potential

Fraunhofer UMSICHT will evaluate the first commercial Ductor Add-On plant technology currently under development in Germany and will carry out precise evaluations of the performance and the gas yield of the treated substrates after commissioning the plant.

However, taking into account the biological processes and the methods used, I expect the gas yield of the treated substrate to be only slightly below that of the untreated substrate. The removal of nitrogen from very nitrogen-rich substrates, such as poultry manure and slaughterhouse waste, is an important step because through this, sensible use of these organic residues in biogas plants as energy can be made possible, even as mono-substrate residues if required, said Joachim Krassowsk.

According to Ductor, the removal of up to 60 percent of nitrogen from the organic substrate – prior biogas fermentation – is a ground-breaking innovation for the biogas industry. This is done by adding one fermentation step, prior to biogas fermentation, and a nitrogen stripping unit.

This solution opens up a variety of new possibilities for improving the profitability of biogas production and nutrient recycling.

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