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Switzerland: Methane Production Caloric Builds Pilot and Demonstration Plant for Biomethanation Process

Editor: Alexander Stark

Caloric has won the international tender for engineering and construction of a biomethanation pilot & demonstration plant in Solothurn, Switzerland. For the methanation of carbon dioxide and hydrogen, microorganisms are used as biocatalyst.

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Electron microscope photograph of the Electrochaea archaea strain, a variant of Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus.
Electron microscope photograph of the Electrochaea archaea strain, a variant of Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus.
(Source: Prof. Andras Klingl)

Graefelfing/Germany — The Store & Go project serves the purpose of demonstrating the technical and economic feasibility on industrial scale of a new Power-to-Gas (PtG) technology based on a patented biocatalyst solution invented by Electrochaea, Planegg/Germany. Based on this process, the biomethanation facility will be designed and built by Caloric Anlagenbau for the installation in Solothurn, Switzerland.

The methanation process is designed to use excess power from renewable energy sources to convert hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) to synthetic natural gas (SNG) by a reaction that is biologically catalyzed by single-celled microorganisms, called archaea. The result is pipeline-grade renewable biomethane that can be injected into the gas grid.

The engineers will design a skid-mounted processing plant which will meet both the sophisticated high-tech research requirements as well as the demands for a unit at a commercial scale. The plant will consist of several skids, a vertical bioreactor and a control room container, all designed to fit into a compact area as provided by Regio Energie Solothurn.

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The pilot plant is designed to allow flexible operation within a wide range of capacities, taking into account its demonstration purpose, but also focusing on modularization and standardization. This will enable the adaptation to a higher hydrogen input without major changes at a later stage.

A key factor of the PtG pilot plant is its modular design concept. This allows the fully pre-fabrication of skids in Caloric’s factory site and includes fabrication, assembly, painting and cabling as well as testing of all components. The plant will be commissioned onsite in mid-2018.

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