Inauguration of Germany’s first bio-LNG plant

Inauguration of Germany’s first compact plant for the production of bio-LNG from biomethane

Liquid manure and dung from the region becomes CO2-neutral biofuel for heavy-duty transport! Agrarvereinigung e.G. Darchau pressed the green start button on its novel bio-LNG plant on 09.08.2022. The compact 500-kilowatt plant, inaugurated in the presence of former German President Christian Wulff, serves as a model for many farms throughout Germany. Whereas biogas was previously mostly used to generate electricity, the plant in the Lüneburg district near the Elbe River produces liquid bio-LNG (“Bio Liquefied Natural Gas”) instead. This can then be used to power trucks and buses – in a climate-neutral way. Biofuel from agricultural residues represents a new business model for farmers.

Joy at the inauguration: from left: Ulrich Löhr (Landvolk), Christian Wulff (former Federal President), Kunibert Ruhe (Managing Director Ruhe Agrar), Maximilian Ruhe (Managing Director Ruhe Biogas Service), Thomas Rolfes (Managing Director Ruhe Agrar and Ruhe Biogas Service), Boris Drewes (Managing Director Ruhe Biogas Service).

The bio-LNG plant in Darchau boasts more sophistication than superlatives. Its daily production of up to three tons initially seems comparatively small – especially in view of the major task of making the republic’s energy supply independent of Russia in all sectors. However, it is precisely its compactness that offers enormous potential as a blueprint for a nationwide rollout. “We can now make good use of many small decentralized bio-LNG plants in Germany,” says Kunibert Ruhe, chairman of Agrarvereinigung e.G. Darchau and shareholder of RUHE Biogas Service GmbH. “Agricultural businesses can produce biogas self-sufficiently in the form of a circular economy using residual materials from their own farms and from businesses in their region and refine it into bio-LNG.”

Bio fuel station for truck

Ruhe is one of the pioneers of the biogas plant industry in the country and founder of RUHE Biogas Service GmbH from Lüsche near Vechta, which further developed and helped build the plant. The compact unit in Darchau alone replaces around 1.3 million liters of fossil diesel per year and saves up to 7,000 tons of CO2. “In principle, any agricultural operation can become a bio-LNG production facility. The new liquefaction module can be retrofitted to operators of existing biogas plants who are looking for a follow-up concept to the EEG subsidy for the conversion of biogas into electricity,” explains expert Ruhe. Bio-LNG is therefore attractive to farmers because heavy trucking is desperate for a climate-friendly alternative.

Great potential for transport turnaround

Although trucks account for only six percent of all vehicles on German roads, they cause 30 percent of all CO2. Fossil liquefied gas, which is already widely used today, can also replace diesel, but only reduces emissions by up to 20 percent. The carbon footprint of bio-LNG, on the other hand, is even going into negative numbers if the fuel is produced from agricultural waste products. Kunibert Ruhe extrapolates the potential: “Only about 30 percent of farm manure is currently used in conventional biogas plants. If we were to use 100 percent in the future and process it into bio-LNG, we could supply around 37 percent of the truck fleet.” This does not include other residual materials from agriculture, such as straw and fodder residues. The annual production of CO2-free fuel from the Darchau plant has already been contractually secured by Q1 Energie AG, an energy and service station company from Osnabrück.

Standardized module

With the help of the blueprint from Darchau, bio-LNG production could be expanded rapidly. The average size of biogas plants in this country is 500 kilowatts. The project managers, including RUHE Biogas Managing Director Maximilian Ruhe, son of the founder, have also geared their concept to this standard. The family-owned company’s services include consulting, planning and the construction of turnkey liquefaction plants. The northern Italian cooperation partner Ecospray Technologies is a technical development partner for converting biogas into bio-LNG and for transporting the liquefied gas to the filling station. The module can be used by operators of biogas plants, it can also be retrofitted. The EU and the state of Lower Saxony are also impressed by the scalability of the technology: Agrarvereinigung e.G. Darchau has received grants for the project amounting to 55 percent of the investment costs from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the directive for granting subsidies to improve the supply of alternative fuels in Lower Saxony.

About RUHE Biogas

The RUHE group of companies is a family business with a strong agricultural background. From its headquarters in Lüsche, Lower Saxony, it manages farms in Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg and operates biogas plants, four of them with an electrical output of 2.74 megawatts.
With 20+ years of operational experience, modern working methods and a motivated team, RUHE Biogas is your partner for the maintenance, optimization and future of biogas plants with liquefaction concepts.

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