Biogas and bionic
"Biogas plants operate like a cow!" This statement, often encountered in the media and technical literature, is unfortunately wrong! Common biogas plants use a faecal-based biocenosis one can find in slurry and comparable sources. The enormous metabolic performance of cattle or any other ruminant (i.e. sheep, goat) is based particularly on the rumen. The transfer of that bionic model into a technological process opens a direct access to the most efficient system of cellulose digestion developed by nature itself and represents the special character of the new and innovative biogas plant concept. All biogas plants are based on a consistent two-stage technology. Inside the first stage, which is an artificial rumen, the hydrolysis of the fibrous parts of the applied substrate occurs.
Using the microbial biocenosis ruminants apply, cellulose and hemicellulose decomposes into short chained fatty acids like acetic acid, propionic acid and butyric acid.
This process happens in hours, not weeks, and these acids can be quickly converted into biogas inside a second bioreactor.
This task is done with the specific efficiency of the rumen biocenosis. However the microbial system of the rumen produces relatively little amounts of methane. For the generation of biogas the fatty acids previously formed in the “artificial rumen” will be transferred into a second bioreactor containing a biocenosis specialized on the conversion of fatty acids into biogas. About 80 % of the methane yield arise directly from the conversion of short chained fatty acids. This high potential is the reason for the particular efficiency of the process. In contrast to common biogas technologies, this method enables a substantial reduction of the retention time of the substrate and allows a significant downsizing of the required repository volume. Due to the application of two highly specialized microbial communities and additional design-related features of the bioreactors, this method provides an independent way of biogas production in addition to well-known wet and dry fermentation technologies.