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Weltec Biopower to expand biogas plant in Uruguay

Germany-based biogas technology provider, Weltec Biopower GmbH has announced that it has recently signed a contract with Estancias del Lago (EDL) for a biogas plant extension at its facility in Durazno, Uruguay. From late 2018, the biogas plant with its eight digesters will generate a rated thermal input of more than 6 MW from cattle manure and fodder leftovers. The company will use the biogas for drying and steam generation purposes in the milk powder production process.

In 2013, Weltec Biopower built the first 800 kW biogas plant for Estancias del Lago (EDL), Uruguay (photo courtesy Weltec).

Founded in 2007, the agricultural company Estancias del Lago (EDL) now farms an area of about 37 000 ha. On this area, the company grows maize, sorghum and soybean as feed for their approximately 14 000 dairy cows. The company foundation was accompanied by the establishment of a huge site in Durazno, north of the capital Montevideo.

Apart from the cowsheds with milking centres, feed silos and the biogas plant, the premises now host a dairy and a grain mill. In Durazno, EDL produces around 20 000 tonnes of milk powder annually for export. Most of the milk solids are sold to China, Brazil and the Middle East.

Expansion from the onset

In 2013, Weltec set up the first 800 kW biogas plant for EDL. Back then, expansion plans were already being considered and since then the size of the herd has increased, from 8 000 to 14 000 cows. Currently, 1 365 tonnes of cattle manure plus 8.4 tonnes of feed leftovers are available daily for energy generation.

As was the case back in 2013, the main reasons why the company opted for us were the high requirement profile and quality standard, said Jens Albartus, Director of Weltec Biopower.

According to Weltec, the structural preparations already started in September 2017. In early 2018, the company will begin installing the six new 5 000 m³ stainless-steel digesters and the two 1 050 m³ pre-storage tanks for the slurry. The entire biogas plant will be fully automated from the end of 2018 thanks to a custom-developed process control system CeMOS.

We wanted to work with an experienced manufacturer with industrial expertise, explained Franz Cifuentes, Director of EDL.

Equipped with experience gained in the construction of large biomethane parks such as the one in Könnern, Germany, Weltec is in charge of the entire building site management in Durazno, including ancillary work.

The EDL dairy herd has increased since 2013 (photo courtesy Weltec).

Two gas boilers use part of the 30 000 Nm³ of biogas that is produced daily to generate heat for the digestion process. Most of the biogas is transferred to the adjacent milk powder production facility via a pipeline. The milk is processed to powder within four to eight hours.

The biogas covers up to 35 percent of the heat required for the drying process and 100 percent of the steam needed is generated using biogas. The digestate from the biogas plant is used as fertiliser. Soybeans are processed to produce press cake used as animal feed and the soy oil is used as feedstock for the biodiesel plant.

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