Ground bro­ken for one of Aus­tralia’s most in­no­va­tive bio­gas projects

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - OIL & GAS -

In the next 14 months, Ger­man bio­gas plant man­u­fac­turer Wel­tec Biopower and its project part­ner Aquatec Max­con will es­tab­lish a bio­gas plant in the Mel­bourne sub­urb of Aurora The 1 MW plant for the anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion of or­ganic waste will be one of the first of its kind down un­der.

The cus­tomer Yarra Val­ley Wa­ter is one of Aus­tralia’s largest en­ter­prises pro­vid­ing wa­ter sup­ply and sew­er­age ser­vices. Through the bio­gas pro­duc­tion, Yarra Val­ley Wa­ter will be­come en­ergy self-suf­fi­cient at the plant lo­ca­tion in Aurora: “The pur­pose built Waste to En­ergy fa­cil­ity will pro­vide an en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able so­lu­tion for com­mer­cial or­ganic wastes, gen­er­at­ing enough re­new­able en­ergy to run the ex­ist­ing sewage and re­cy­cled wa­ter treat­ment plants, as well as other Yarra Val­ley Wa­ter fa­cil­i­ties,” says Pat McCaf­ferty, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Yarra Val­ley Wa­ter. The two 530 kilo­watt MAN en­gines are even pro­duc­ing as much elec­tric­ity that an un­used sur­plus can be fed into the pub­lic grid.

In view of the pos­i­tive ef­fects of this anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion project, other in­vestors Down Un­der are likely to fol­low suit. Cur­rently, the pop­u­la­tion and politi­cians are de­bat­ing what the cor­rect en­ergy mix of tomorrow should look like. The de­bate also in­cludes the sub­ject of na­ture con­ser­va­tion. The pop­u­la­tion is sen­si­tive to this sub­ject due to Aus­tralia’s en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as the world’s third-largest ura­nium ex­porter and one of the world’s high­est per-capita car­bon emis­sions re­sult­ing from the pri­mar­ily coal-based power pro­duc­tion.

In fact, the tran­si­tion to­wards re­new­able en­er­gies has al­ready started: By 2020, the pro­duc­tion from re­new­able en­er­gies is to reach 33 TWh. The few bio­gas plants that are cur­rently on­line in Aus­tralia still mainly utilise sewage sludge and waste­water from var­i­ous in­dus­tries. The growth of the bio­gas seg­ment could be boosted es­pe­cially by making more con­sis­tent use of biowaste, such as will be used at the WEL­TEC plant in Aurora. Mean­while, or­ganic left­overs are re­garded as raw ma­te­ri­als and valu­able en­ergy sources.

The two stain­less-steel di­gesters in Aurora, each of which has a ca­pac­ity of 3,573m³, will be fed with 100 tons of or­ganic waste a day. More than half of this amount will come from cafe­te­rias and restau­rants. The rest will com­prise fats and oils, brew­ery and dairy left­overs, fruit and veg­etable waste and sludge that will be pumped from the adjacent waste­water treat­ment plant. Af­ter the di­ges­tion process, the sub­strate will first be sani­tised and then buf­fered in a stain­less-steel tank of 4,531m³.

A cus­tom-tai­lored in­put process will be set up to en­sure un­in­ter­rupted sup­ply of the bio­gas plant. At the de­liv­ery area, the feed stocks will first be loaded into two 35m³ solids hop­per feeder. Part of the sub­strates, such as melon peels, will first be shred­ded and then fur­ther chopped up with other raw ma­te­ri­als and mixed with re­cir­cu­la­tion fluid in the Mul­tiMix sys­tem. Af­ter this pre­lim­i­nary treat­ment, the mix­ture will be pumped into the largest of the five stain­less-steel pre-stor­age tanks with a to­tal vol­ume of al­most 700m³.

Ex­cept for the load­ing of the in­put sys­tems, the process is fully au­to­mated. The size of the pre-stor­age tanks was de­signed in such a way that no load­ing and thus no man­power will be re­quired at the week­end and at night. Wel­tec’s cus­tomde­vel­oped Lo­MOS PLC will make sure that the sub­strate is au­to­mat­i­cally pumped from the pre-stor­age tanks to the di­gesters, thereby en­sur­ing con­tin­u­ous di­ges­tion at the week­end.

“Our knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence in rolling out the tech­nol­ogy of such a project was a key fac­tor in our se­lec­tion as the first Ger­man bio­gas plant man­u­fac­turer to build a plant in Aus­tralia. We are proud of be­ing rep­re­sented on five con­ti­nents with about 300 bio­gas plants”, sum­marises Jens Al­bar­tus, Di­rec­tor of Wel­tec Biopower, the com­pany’s achieve­ments. The thor­ough plan­ning that pre­ceded the project is re­flected in the two-year prepa­ra­tion phase prior to the com­mence­ment of the con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. Jens Al­bar­tus is sure that it was worth the ef­fort: “The ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tion will help to es­tab­lish a good rep­u­ta­tion of AD waste plants on the fifth con­ti­nent.”

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