Biogas Reforming and Valorisation Through PEM FUel Cells

Project Description

“Biogas2PEM-FC” is an industrial research project that aims to develop the technologies that compose a novel and integrated solution for biogas valorisation through proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM). Such a solution provides a modular, reliable, cost-effective and efficient combined heat & power (CHP) system suitable for a distributed, on-site power generation from agricultural wastes. Specifically, the agricultural waste selected to treat and valorise is olive oil mill (solid and liquid) waste. The extraction of olive oil generates huge quantities of wastes that have a great impact on land and water environments because of their high phytotoxicity. These wastes include olive pomace (SOMW), a mixture of liquid and solid wastes with 55-60% water content. Because of SOMW characteristics (higher water content and organic compound concentration such as carbohydrates, pectins and polyphenols), a huge disposal and potentially pollution problem for the industry is generated.

The European consortium undertaking the project conducts research for the increase of biogas production yield, using physic-chemical and biological pre-treatment technologies at laboratory scale for enhancing anaerobic digestion effectiveness. After optimization of pre-treatment technologies, different inoculates and co-substrates are investigated and used in laboratory experiments for maximization of biogas production (high methane and hydrogen content with minimum CO2 and CO production ratio).

Additionally, beyond-state-of-the-art biogas reforming technologies are developed and optimized so as to obtain new catalysts for an efficient conversion of biogas to hydrogen. Research for the integration of PEM technologies using hydrogen produced from biogas is performed as well.  Moreover, construction and field tests of a pilot plant located in a selected olive oil mill exploitation have been foreseen in order to provide comprehensive techno-economic and environmental evaluation. Dissemination and exploitation activities of Biogas2PEM-FC project results for the feasibility demonstration of low cost biogas reforming and power generation have also been envisaged.

IDENER Contributions

  • Biogas purification: Selection of commercial absorbers based on quality analysis. Preliminary experiments wconducted in-situ in a small scale cleaning system in order to identify the breakthrough curve for each material and pressure drop across the system.
  • Development of optimum catalysts: Development of optimum catalytic materials for the various reactions which take place in the whole biogas reforming process. 
  • Pre-treatment of the reformate: In order to achieve a purer hydrogen output, two reformate pretreatmens are studied. On the one hand, purer hydrogen can be obtained using preferential or selective oxidation. On the other hand, hydrogen purification is also be undertaken by combining a CO2 scrubber with subsequent methanation to reduce CO content to a level of less than 10 ppm. 
  • Reforming system preliminary design: Detailed mass and energy balances for each subsystem, (e.g. reactors, steam generator, heat exchangers etc), of the fuel processor are produced. After identifying the optimal process scheme, on terms of simplicity and efficiency, the derived mass and energy balances are used in designing and sizing of each subsystem. Besides heat and mass balances, other basic design of the system such as instrumentation and control needs are evaluated.
  • Modular system definition: Optimized operational conditions are gathered in order to define the inputs and outputs of the designed system so a mass and energy balance of the entire process can be carried out in order to define all the streams and energy use/exchange involved in the process.
  • Modular system detailed engineering: Detailed sheets of the PFD and P&ID for optimal process are produced including also a HazOp analysis. Detailed design (2D and 3D drawings) of the basic subsystems of the system are also produced using proper design mechanical software.
  • Pilot integration: Pilot modular system construction, system control and integration, and pilot plant testing and operation.


logo EU The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA – Research Executive Agency (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement N.314940.

Project Details

  • Date 29 September, 2013
  • Tags Biotechnology, Control Engineering, Energy, Environment, Modeling and Simulation, Public - EU FP7 / H2020
  • Programme FP7 Capacities
  • Call ID FP7-SME-2012
  • Project cost 1.495.040 EUR
  • Start date November, 2012
  • End date October, 2014
Launch Project
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