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Europe’s first industrial biological methanation PtG plant inaugurated

Europe’s first industrial biological methanation PtG plant inaugurated
The ceremonial inauguration of Europe’s first industrial Power to Gas (PtG) plant based on biological methanation took place on April 28-29, 2022, in Dietikon outside of Zurich, Switzerland (photo courtesy HZI).

In Switzerland, Europe's first industrial Power-to-Gas (PtG) plant has officially been inaugurated. Based on biological methanation it is a first-of-its-kind plant in Europe and represents a milestone both for its owner and operator Limeco, and HZI Schmack, from whom the innovative technology originates.

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This milestone project is located on the site of the Limmattaler Regiowerk Limeco utility, which is also the owner and operator of the plant.

The builder and technology supplier is the Bavarian company Hitachi Zosen Inova Schmack GmbH (HZI Schmack), a subsidiary of Hitachi Zosen Inova AG.

Representatives from politics and industry were invited to attend the festively framed event and listen to various technical presentations and ceremonial speeches on site.

One highlight was undoubtedly the guided tour of the plant, which gave visitors unique insights into this milestone project.

Ideal site location

Regiowerk Limeco initiated and realized this beacon project of the modern energy industry together with eight Swiss energy suppliers and the municipal utility alliance Swisspower.

The location was of central importance, as the existing waste treatment plant (WTP) and wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) on the Limeco site provide the elementary ingredients for the PtG process: electricity and sewage gas.

In the new PtG plant, renewable electricity from the WWTP is used to split water into oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2) by means of electrolysis.

In a second process step, this hydrogen is fed into HZI Schmack’s methanation reactor together with sewage gas from the WWTP.

In the “BiON” process developed in-house, microorganisms in this bioreactor convert hydrogen and the CO2 contained in the sewage gas into biomethane (CH4) under anaerobic conditions – biological methanation.

The biomethane is then purified and can be fed into the local gas grid as a CO2-neutral substitute for natural gas. The renewable natural gas (RNG) from the Limeco PtG plant can reduce the CO2 emissions of around 2 000 average households compared to fossil natural gas.

PtG contributing to the Swiss energy transition

As part of its Energy Strategy 2050, the Swiss government plans to replace nuclear power with renewable energy resources such as solar, hydro, and wind power.

However, unlike dispatchable biomass and biogas, this renewable source of electricity is subject to greater seasonal and temporal fluctuations and cannot be stored.

With PtG technology, it is possible to convert seasonal and temporal surpluses from this electricity production into biomethane (aka RNG) thereby making it storable and transportable.

This makes PtG an important factor in the energy transition while providing energy independence and security.

With the project in Dietikon, Limeco is leading the way as a pioneer, while all parties involved in the project are united in the conviction that this concept will set a precedent in the Swiss energy market.

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