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NOO2 - Development of an efficient oxygen elimination technology for reducing oxygen content in landfill gas for fuel quality

Final Report Summary - NOO2 (NOO2 - Development of an efficient oxygen elimination technology for reducing oxygen content in landfill gas for fuel quality)

Executive Summary:
Improved utilisation of landfill biogas is highly important for the future of the EU's energy market. Until now, the main bottleneck was lack of affordable and cost-effective upgrading technologies.
Landfill biogas is a renewable energy source that typically refers to gas produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. The problem of landfill biogas is the trace amount of oxygen and hydrogen sulphide. Oxygen concentration must be reduced by safety issue (corrosion and risk of explosion) and regulations for injection in natural gas grid. Hydrogen sulphide causes corrosion issues in piping and equipment.
The NOO2 project offers an innovative process for purifying the biogas. In the process, the gas passes through a biotrickling filter filled with plastic packing material where bacteria are fixed and carried out the biological removal of oxygen and hydrogen sulphide.
Pproject partners developed biotrickling technology that combines two biofilters. Unlike state-of-the-art membrane separation technology for removing oxygen, the biotrickling reactor is compatible with all kinds of biogas upgrading processes. It requires only the addition of cheap reagents, additionally, nitrate-enriched wastewater can be used as a nitrate source, reducing nitrate concentration of the wastewater effluent.
Eliminating the need for high-pressure units and expensive membranes, the new technology also decreases construction and maintenance costs of the system, however the most important project result is the NOO2 prototype that was designed, manufactured by an international Consortium, consisting of technological expert and end-user SME partners and also specialised RTD players.
As per the objectives of the project the fully integrated NOO2 prototype was successfully designed, developed and manufactured, with electronic controls and preliminarily validated and tested. Upscale for the 100 m3/h unit was designed conceptionally, however, the 250 m3/h and 1000m3/h capacity was not investigated. The main objective of the project was achieved, because the concept of the NOO2 pre-competitive prototype is was proven: first inoculation test results show O2 removal rate between 30-40% which can be further increased with advanced system settings.
The system development was seriously delayed by the necessary full ATEX revision of the design and manufacturing process, which was not taken into consideration at the time of the proposal development and budget planning. The delays caused that the prototype field tests could only be started by May 2017, close to the official project closure. However, the RTD partners being fully dedicated to further support the SME partners, continued the field tests at Pusztazámor even after the project’s official lifetime until October 2017.
The full NOO2 prototype is now completely manufactured, readily delivered for validation and available for additional testing activities. In parallel to dissemination activities, the SME partners of the Consortium are now making the preparations for the post-project commercial exploitation phase.
Commercialisation of the NOO2 technology for removing oxygen and hydrogen sulphide will create an economical method of turning landfill biogas into renewable natural gas.

Project Context and Objectives:
Depleting fossil fuel along with the changes in customer views are to increase the need for finding petroleum substitutes for power and fuel generation. Furthermore, rigorous research activities towards technological development for power generation by substituting natural gas, oil, and coal is enduring, which in turn is anticipated to lay massive environmental benefits and technical feasibility to catalyze the waste to energy market growth from 2017 to 2024.
The European waste to energy market is experiencing steady growth. A circular economy, the European Union 2020 renewable energy target, country-specific regulations and incentives to support development of waste management and modernisation of waste to energy plants. EU has set target to derive 20% energy from renewable sources owing to boost waste to energy demand.
Landfill gas to energy facilities have continued to receive high levels of investment, proving to be a cost-effective way to utilize landfill gas for generating energy, as well as achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with the reduction or exploitation of biogas leaking from landfills.
The aim of NOO2 was to develop an oxygen elimination technology for oxygen containing methane rich landfill gases in order to get fuel quality biogas based on combination of aerobic and anoxic microbial processes for desulphurisation process. The novel technology is the combination of oxidative and anoxic desulphurization processes for the elimination of oxygen and sulphur in a two-stage biological trickling reactor. The integration of microbiological process into the existing “traditional” gas upgrading process, tailored to the specific biogas gas components will allow performing biogas upgrading much more efficiently and environmentally friendly making it more cost-effective than ever before
Also according to the SME partners of the NOO2 project, by removing oxygen, the cleaned biogas can be used for further bioenergy installations and development of energy efficient projects, like operating biogas fuelled landfill vehicles and municipal waste transportation trucks.
As per the objectives of the project the fully integrated NOO2 prototype was successfully designed, developed and manufactured, with electronic controls and preliminarily validated and tested. Upscale for the 100 m3/h unit was designed conceptionally. Still, the main objective of the project was achieved, because the concept of the NOO2 pre-competitive prototype is was proven: first inoculation test results show O2 removal rate between 30-40% which can be further increased with advanced system settings. The prototype can now be marketed and installed into any landfill site where biogas capture is available, as NOO2 has a full ATEX certification.
As the proof of concept of oxygen removal from transport gas was proved by the RTD partners, the SME project partners are now preparing the follow-up activities, UTB, ASIO and ARW decided to take over the prototype in November 2017 and perform further tests in the post-project period, with the support of the original RTD partners. The SMEs intend to perform a stable test operation for at least 6 months to see the results on a longer term as well, which is the cornerstone for them to plan and initiate commercialization activities.
Project Results:
Work in WP1 started with a market research and in-depth literature research to gain enhanced understanding of the European market needs and to define the functional specification of the NOO2 system.
WP2 started parallel with WP1 and continues until M16 with the objectives to design, setup of the laboratory scale reactor for research purposes, to determine the optimal process parameters and the procedure of control that will be used in the pilot scale prototype.
In WP3 the work on the mechanical design started in month ten with the collection of mechanical requirements and with the preparation of the conceptual design.
Training was also included in the first period with the aim that RTDs train the SMEs and OTHER partners on the technologies so that they obtain full advantage of the developments and maximise the exploitation potential.
Dissemination activities were carried out mainly through setting up the dissemination strategy and planning the future activities.
Activities for exploitation included a technology and patent watch to ensure the developed technology does not infringe any intellectual property rights. In addition a draft business plan was drawn up which will be finalized by the end of the project.
In the second period the project duration was changed from 32 to 44 months in total, because of the ATEX revision for the provision of safe operation conditions to the operation with biogas, which caused a suspension period between mid-January 2016 and mid-September 2016. The project was also extended with 4 months to finish the full design revision. The project started on 1 January 2014 and concluded with an end date of 30 May 2017. The project was divided into two reporting periods and the present report covers the second period.
As a summary, the main results achieved so far are as follows:
• A market survey and literature research was performed with an overview of the market trend
focusing on the specification needed and on legal regulations within the EU;
• An in-depth literature and patent search was performed about the two technologies to be combined;
• The system’s technical specification was outlined;
• The laboratory scale model NOO2 system was set up including sampling and control points to carry out pilot tests;
• Laboratory testing was performed and the optimal process parameters were defined with conclusions to be taken into account during the design, construction and operation of the NOO2 prototype
• The definition of the mechanical requirements are under process and the conceptual mechanical design is planned to be concluded in M14.
• In work package 4 the control system of the reactor was developed. The principle of the control system was investigated in WP2, Task 2.3 and produced in Deliverable 2.3. Based on these results the control logic was developed in Task 4.3 and provided in Deliverable 4.1.
• The implementation of the control system was done in WP5, Task 5.2. The prototype was built in WP5, and its description was presented in Deliverable 5.2. The prototype was tested preliminarily and at the landfill site to determine the optimal operational parameters.
• Testing activities were performed in WP7 and reported in D7.1 by the end of the project M44.
• Conceptual design scale-up for reactor modules of 100 m3/h were made. The conceptual design was made in WP6 and delivered at the end of the project in D6.1.
• New market possibilities for the Consortium members were provided in the biogas market by disseminating the foreground on relevant events of renewable energy sector. The updated PUDF was presented in Deliverable 9.3.
• Training activities and materials in Deliverable 8.1 were developed that facilitates knowledge/technology transfer from RTD performers to Consortium SME partners. A dissemination strategy was developed that includes practical workshops, conference presentations and specialized magazines/journal publications, as shown in Deliverable 9.3

The main and most important result of the project is a fully operative, safety certified, biogas O2 removal device with wide automation features and options installed, that can be deployed and installed into a wide range application fields where biogas surplus is available.

The other important findings of the project is the preliminary biological behaviour and know-how about the bacteria within the system, a unique knowledge that was generated through the development of the NOO2 prototype. A data collector was developed and installed into the certain parts of the prototype, making it possible to continuously monitor and control the biological processes inside the device. The findings of this data collection are very unique development results inside the NOO2 project.

The third main results of the project is the unique ATEX certification which although was not envisaged in the beginning of the project, still it was fully achieved for NOO2 in order to achieve the maximum conditions for a safe and stable operation of the device with biogas. This is an outstanding and standalone result of NOO2.
Potential Impact:
The Europe 2020 Strategy aims to achieve sustainable development, which includes the efficiency enhancing too. In line with these requirements, there is a continuous drive towards low energy, environmentally friendly solutions, which can provide a reduced carbon footprint. The developed NOO2 solution is a sustainable system and supports these long-held aspirations. Responsibly developed and practiced waste management can generate lasting benefits for global food security and economic growth.
NOO2 will provide a solution for municipality landfill and other locations where biogas production is continuous and the surplus needs to be taken care of as it will be able to clean generated biogas from municipal waste, making it possible to use it for further renewable energy purposes, with the advantages of low maintenance needs, safety operation with biogas and an expected affordable price after market introduction.
Considerable savings on gasoline by municipality waste transportation trucks also imply reduction of environmental impact and CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the project will contribute favourably to EU Renewable Policies, especially those pertaining to the generation and application energy efficient use of raw and waste materials.
This project also contributed positively to energy efficiency policies and to strategies for rational use of energy, in that the system will be run off “free” biogas that is otherwise burned meanwhile it is constantly generated on municipal landfills.

The global renewable energy market as well as the global biogas market is expanding and is expected to continue growing. As a natural consequence, the global biogas equipment market is sharply expanding thanks to the economic and environmental need of substituting fossil oil and gas with renewable energy sources. As biogas becomes a significant energy source for most common consumer segments (electricity generation, heating, transport fuels), the technology and equipment market behind is increasing sharply. The global market for biogas upgrading equipment reached $125.4 million in 2011. This market is expected to grow to $198.7 million in 2013 and $442.4 million in 2018, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.4%. The share of Europe in the global market is still dominant, about 75%, resulting in an expected market size of $330 million in 2018.
NOO2 consortium member SMEs and other participants intend to offer the system to owners and operators of landfills (municipalities and waste management companies) and companies in the energy sector and financially benefit on the growing target market.
The NOO2 system will offer the following advantages to the users:
• As opposed to the currently applicable system of O2 removal (membrane separation), the NOO2 biotrickling reactor would be compatible with all kinds of biogas upgrading processes;
• The operation of biotrickling is much cheaper than O2 removal by membranes. The biotrickling unit requires only the addition of cheap reagents in a controlled way and no additional supply of nutrients or heating. Even, nitrate-enriched waste water can be used as nitrate source, reducing nitrate concentration of the waste water effluent;
• The construction and maintenance costs of the designed system will be lower than that of a membrane system, no need for high pressure units and for expensive membranes;
• The purified biogas of fuel quality can be transformed to electricity or heat easily, and can be injected into the existing natural gas grid or can be handled as compressed natural gas (CNG) used in transportation.
The NOO2 project concluded in May 2017 and SME partners are now considering further steps of post-project validation activities and fine tuning the prototype before future market entry.
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