This new technology allows the direct application of residues and by-products from agriculture, trade and industry or municipal landscape conservation for energy purposes. A competition between the production of food and energy crops will not longer exist. The ability to use even the digestate of common biogas plants as a "feed" may demonstrate the fermentative capacity of the new technology. It uses only natural microorganisms. An application of genetically modified organisms (microorganisms or plants) is not required.
The technique provides a daily decomposition rate between 10 to 30% of the applied biomass.
Even the separated residues of common biogas plants can be decomposed. This fact illustrates the advantages of the innovative technology. Because of the high daily decomposition rate, it is possible to reduce the required volume of the bioreactors considerably. Smaller biogas plants, manufactured using only standardized modular units, will help to realize significant capital cost savings. Bioreactors will be fabricated in the form of standardized ISO-containers which can be shipped by truck, train or ship. So it is possible to apply the technology all over the world. The modular construction of this new type of biogas plants allows the realization of user-defined amounts of energy depending only on the specific conversion rate of the applied substrate.
By eliminating the necessity of specific energy crops no arable soils are needed for their cultivation. The exclusive use of residues and by-products is in contrast to the so called "Bioenergy 1.0" using food for energy purposes. This allows the production of bioenergy in an ethically acceptable way for the first time. A continuously working process makes it possible to use the fibrous parts of plants for biogas production. So the food-parts can be used for human nutrition or as feed for animals.
Agricultural food production creates many side-products (i.e. foliage etc.) that cannot be used for human consumption. These residues now can be readily applied for energy production. This makes it unnecessary to cultivate specialized energy crops. Now it is possible to use many residues taken from agriculture and the food industry, or one can simply use pest plants, weeds or grass that is growing everywhere (i.e. from landscaping and set-aside land). Also pesticide resisting so called "superweeds" could be regarded as an usable biomass source.
The capability to use a wide range of herbal materials offers an important monetary benefit to the user because it is not necessary to buy or to cultivate expensive energy crops. One kilogram of cellulose offers more then 400 litre of methane. This corresponds to 4 kWh of calorific energy. So operating costs can be held on a low level.
This new technology requires no manure or other excrements of animal origins. The shift from the use of liquid manure and other excrements from animals (i.e. cattle, swine, poultry) allows effective production of biogas at places where no industrial lifestock farming exits.
In addition the water requirement can be considered to be low and is usually already provided even by the moisture content of the substrates. Many biomasses contain relevant amounts of moisture, so the fermentative pathway is also advantageous in contrast to comparable thermal and pyrolytic technologies.
In contrast to common biogas plants these new innovative biomethane plants do not need to be built as an individual on-site construction. They are based on standardized modules and can be assembled within hours directly on-site. This offers an extreme high degree of flexibility regarding the type and amount of available substrates. In particular small and medium-sized plants for decentralized energy supply can be realized by using only some modular system components.
The outstanding performance of this new technology opens up the possibility of a directly use of many atypical biomass potentials, which will become more and more important within the future. In a climate changing world which actually is loosing their fertile soils, marine macroalgae and hydrophytes will increasingly become more and more important for biomass production and utilization.
The enormous fermentative performance of the new technology creates a lot of opportunities for alternative substrates which will become very important within the future, e.g. algae and hydrophytes.
Initial experience shows that the use of seaweed induces increased production of microbial biomass. So the use of seaweeds can be helpful to stabilize the microbial community inside the bioreactors.
Each innovative technology for biogas production should therefore be adapted to the specific requirements of these novel substrates. The technology and the microbial biocenosis presented now by RuSiTec is already prepared to the future challenges.