Case study

Boosting biogas production for food and beverage industries

The pressure to increase sustainability and move toward a circular economy is common in most sectors, but it’s felt especially keenly in the food and beverage industry. Particularly dairies are looking for ways to close the loop and be more self-sufficient in energy consumption, and biogas is a great way to do this.

Boosting biogas production for food and beverage industries

“The main pain points in the dairy industry today include increasing energy efficiency, reducing the environmental footprint, minimizing water consumption, and dealing with ever-increasing cost pressures,” explains Jakob Janukiewicz, Marketing Manager at Kemira. “In fact, most of these requirements can be addressed by biogas production: costs are reduced, energy efficiency is increased, the process becomes more sustainable, and you can even save water in some cases,” he continues.

“Sustainability is very important for food companies,” agrees Britt Nilsson, Specialist of Application Development at Kemira. “They are in direct contact with consumers and need to protect their brands and show solid sustainability credentials. Production needs to run uninterrupted, while ensuring the wastewater from the processes is clean enough to be discharged for further treatment at a municipal wastewater treatment plant.”

We managed to stabilize the biogas production process using a tailor-made Kemira biogas booster product, increasing the biogas production by 15% and reducing VFAs to the required level.

Less fat, more gas

Wastewater from dairy production is characterized by high protein and fat content, making it challenging to treat. “There can be significant variation in the organic load, but a smooth wastewater treatment process is essential to ensure that there is no disruption to production,” Jakob points out. “In one recent case, we worked with a dairy facility that needed to discharge its pretreated water into the municipal sewage treatment system. To do this, close attention had to be paid to the levels of volatile fatty acids (VFA), which had previously been too high. Together with the dairy, we managed to stabilize the biogas production process using a tailor-made Kemira biogas booster product, increasing the biogas production by 15% and reducing VFAs to the required level. Polymer consumption was also reduced significantly and the customer is now enjoying a more stable system.”

Enabling the microorganisms to do their job

“In order to improve biogas production we always work on wastewater process optimization,” explains Britt. “The quality of the biogas produced is linked to the quality of the wastewater. When a dairy industry customer comes to us to boost their biogas production we take a holistic approach, looking at every step of the process to improve efficiency. This big-picture view, together with smart chemistry optimization, is what gives us such good results.”

“With our unique concept for improved digestion performance, the so-called Kemira BDP treatment concept, we can help boost microbial activity in the reactor where biogas is produced, leading to better production of residuals,” Britt explains. “The microorganisms do all the hard work converting the waste into biogas – we just create the right environment to optimize how well they do it.” Each solution is tailor-made for the individual process based on Kemira’s extensive experience in this area.

“We have a global network of experts with deep knowledge of biogas production,” adds Jakob. “No other chemical producer has such a broad product portfolio – in combination with smart process management solutions.”

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