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Microferm Green Gas manure digester proving a hit for Dutch dairy farmers

In the Netherlands, the Microferm Green Gas anaerobic digestion (AD) installations for manure, developed and supplied by bioenergy and biogas technology specialists HoSt in collaboration with the Jumpstart initiative of dairy major FrieslandCampina, are proving a great success. HoSt is currently realizing the popular mono-manure digester at five different dairy farms in the Netherlands which brings the total to seven since the launch of Jumpstart in 2018.

The completed Microferm Green Gas manure-to-biomethane “Jumpstart” installation in Koudum (photo courtesy HoSt).

HoSt’s Microferm Green Gas manure digester concept produces biomethane (aka green gas or renewable natural gas – RNG) from manure via anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas upgrading. Specifically adapted for dairy farms, these units enable the generation of extra income for the dairy farmer while the mono-manure digestion ensures a strong reduction of methane and nitrogen emissions.

In total, the Netherlands will soon have fifteen Microferms installations in operation, two-thirds of which will have a combined biomethane production of approximately 3.2 million Nm3 per annum. The remaining installations provide green electricity and heat using combined heat and power (CHP) technology instead of biogas upgrading.

Manure management with Jumpstart

The five new Microferms AD plants are being built at dairy farms in Blokzijl (Overijssel), Boornbergum (Friesland), Lekkum (Leeuwarden), Ell (Limburg), and Achtmaal (Brabant). Each installation will produce around 40 Nm3 of biomethane per hour.

On an annual basis, each plant will produce around 320 000 Nm3 biomethane from 12 000 to 16 000 tonnes of manure which is sufficient for the annual heating and cooking needs of approximately 240 gas-powered Dutch households.

HoSt works together with the Jumpstart cooperative, an initiative of dairy major FrieslandCampina. Within FrieslandCampina’s Jumpstart initiative, HoSt is a qualified supplier of the Microferm mono-manure digester with a biomethane system.

This collaboration facilitates the development of profitable manure digestion at dairy farmers for the production of sustainable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) on the dairy farm and in the sector.

In 2018, HoSt signed the first Jumpstart Microferm project. This biogas plant successfully produces biomethane in Merselo in the province of Limburg. The five Microferms plants under construction and the recently completed project in Koudum, are also all Jumpstart projects.

Compact and automated

According to HoSt, research shows that timely storage of fresh manure in a closed tank reduces methane and ammonia emissions from the manure storage below the barn.

The manure digester is basically a gas-tight, heated, insulated tank with a mixer. In this tank, the manure is anaerobically digested under controlled conditions, converted into biogas, and using a biogas upgrading system with membrane technology upgraded to biomethane.

This way, the methane is not released in the air ánd is optimally used. In addition, the Microferm unit can easily be expanded with a nitrogen stripper for manure/digestate treatment in a closed cycle.

No worries ownership concept

HoSt has developed the Microferm system for farmers that want to operate a manure digester in a profitable way and with minimum effort. Permitting is required to build and operate an AD plant which can be perceived as an onerous time-consuming process. HoSt can provide full permit application services eliminating the administrative hassle for the dairy farmer.

It is great that we are moving towards a more and more sustainable dairy sector, but that sometimes demands quite a lot from the dairy farmer. We are pleased that we can unburden the farmer with the permit application. With the realization of another five Microferms, we prove that manure digestion can be profitable and sustainable, said Lieuwe de Boer, Sales Engineer at HoSt.

The strength of this ‘mini’ biogas plant lies in its simplicity with proven technology, the low risk, and an investment that is manageable. The Microferm is a compact installation with the control system, heat recovery, and biogas upgrading in one unit.

The digester is equipped with a patented insulated double membrane roof for extra heat savings. Thanks to automated technology, the installation can be monitored online remotely via a very user-friendly control environment. The dairy farmer only needs to carry out a quick 15-minute daily check round.

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