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Biogas is fast becoming a fuel of the choice for rural economy in many parts of the world because large number of agriculture and farming communities lives in rural area. Most of these countries depend on imported   Diesel, LPG and Gasoline for their industries, agriculture, transportation and cooking. Countries like India with large population spends a huge amount of foreign currency towards import of petroleum products, making it more vulnerable to the fluctuating oil and gas prices in the international market. However, there is an increasing awareness in India recently about the importance of generating biogas as an alternative energy source to fossil fuel because 70% of the Indian population lives in rural areas. With an estimated cattle population of 280 million (National Dairy development Board 2010) there is a potential to generate biogas at 19,500 Mw.

The following calculation is based on the costing details provided by successful case studies of community based Biogas plants in India. One community based biogas plant has 121 families consisting of 5 members per family as stake holders. They supply cow dung at the rate of 4.50 Mt/day for 365days in a year and generate biogas by an anaerobic digester, designed and constructed locally. Biogas is supplied to all the stakeholders every day for 2 hrs in the morning and for about 2 hrs in the evening for cooking. This is equal to burning 3025 kgs of wood/day (121 families x 5members/family x 5kg wood per member= 3025 x 4000 kcal/kg= 12.10 mil Kcal/day= 48.40 mmBtu/day).The piped natural gas in India is supplied now at the rate of $16/mm Btu, which means the plant is able to generate revenue worth $774.40 per day. But each family of 5 members are charged only Rs.150 per month or 121 families are charged 121 x Rs.150= Rs.18, 150/month ($363/month). The family members also supply milk to co-operative dairy farm which has also contributed to set up the biogas plant. Total cost of the project is $43,000 of which Government subsidy is $20,000, Dairy farm contribution $ 16,000 and the stake holders $7000.The economic and social benefit of this project is enormous. The economic benefit by way of fuel savings, revenue from the sale of vermin compose and by way of Carbon credit amounts to Rs.48,94,326 ($97,926/yr).(source:SUMUL).

The above case study clearly shows how successfully India can adopt bioenergy as an alternative to fossil fuel in rural areas. We have already seen how biogas can be enriched to increase its methane content and to remove other impurities by way of water scrubbing as shown in the figure. The purified and dried biogas with Methane content 97% and above can be liquefied using cryogenic process by chilling to -162C.The liquefaction of biogas is energy intensive but it is worth doing  in countries like India especially when there is no natural gas pipeline network.BLG (liquefied biogas)  is an ideal fuel for industries with CHP (combined heat and power) applications with energy efficiency exceeding 80% compared to conventional diesel engine efficiency at 30%.By installing LBG service station and catering to transport industry, India can cut their import of crude oil while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.

Producing LBG also leads to a renewable fuel available for heavier vehicles. The fuel can be stored as LBG on the vehicle, which increase the driving distance per tank. The need is that the vehicle is running frequently, otherwise LBG will vaporize and CH4 will be vented to the atmosphere. LBG is in liquid form only when the gas is stored on the vehicle. When it gets to the engine it is in its gas phase. When LBG is delivered to remote fuel stations or storages it is transported in vacuum insulated pressure vessels. One such manufacture of these semi-trailers is Cryo AB and the dimensions of a standard equipped semi-trailer, suitable for Nordic logistic conditions, is shown in Figure 13.

This trailer is optimized for the transportation of LNG/LBG and has a tank capacity of 56,000 liters (~33,000 Nm3 LBG). It is vacuum insulated and the heat in-leakage is less than 0.9 % of maximum payload LBG per 24 hour. The maximum payload is 83.7 % filling rate at 0 bar (g) (=19,730 kg). The source of heat is the surrounding air and the heat in-leakage raises the pressure of the LBG. The maximum working pressure is 7.0 bar (g). If this pressure is exceeded gas is vented to the atmosphere through a safety valve. (Cryo AB, 2008)

Fuel station technology:

There are three different types of fuel station available, using LBG as a feed stock:

– LBG refueling station

– LCBG refueling station

– Multi-purpose refueling station

LBG stations fuel LBG to vehicles equipped with a cryogenic tank while LCBG stations refuel CBG. LCBG stands for liquid to compressed biogas and LBG is transformed to CBG at the refueling station. Multi-purpose refueling stations are able to fuel both LBG and CBG, and consist of one LBG part and one LCBG part. (Vanzetti Engineering, 2008a) There are a number of companies in the LNG business working with the development of fuel stations using LBG as a feedstock. The presented data in this text is based on information from three different companies; Cryostat, Nexgen fuels and Vanzetti Engineering.

This article will focus on the multi-purpose station and since the three companies’ designs are very similar, only a general description will be presented.

The reason why the multi-purpose station is chosen is because LBG could be a good alternative for heavier vehicles. Here it is assumed that these vehicles already are available and in use on a large extent. The refueling station assumes to be situated in conjunction with one of the frequent roads in India, not in vicinity with the gas network. The following requirements lie as a background for the design:

– Possibility to fuel both LBG and CBG

– One double dispenser for CBG; one nozzle for vehicles (NGV-1) and one nozzle for busses (NGV-2)

– One single nozzle for LBG

– Expected volume of sale: 3000 Nm3/day

– Pressure on CBG: up to 230 bar (200 bars at 15°C)

The standard equipment on the multi-purpose station consists of a storage tank for LBG, cryogenic pumps, ambient vaporizer, odorant injection system and dispensers. (Cryostat, 2008a)

There are three types of cryogenic pumps:

– Reciprocating

– Centrifugal

– Submerged

Reciprocating pumps are able to function at very high pressures and are used for the filling of buffer tanks and gas cylinders. Centrifugal pumps are able to produce high flow rates and are used for the transfer of cryogenic liquids between reservoir tanks or road tankers. (Cryostat, 2008b) A submerged pump is a centrifugal pump installed inside a vacuum insulated cryogenic tank. This tank is totally submerged in the cryogenic liquid, which makes it stay in permanently cold conditions. (Vanzetti Engineering, 2008b)

A sketch over a multi-purpose station can be seen in Figure 14. LBG is stored in a vacuum insulated cryogenic vessel and LBG is delivered with semi-trailers. The volume of the storage tank is usually designed to match refilling on a weekly basis. The transfer from trailer is either done by gravity or by transfer pumps, the latter significantly reducing transfer time. (Vanzetti Engineering, 2008a) From the LBG storage tank the station is divided into two; the LBG part and the LCBG part.

The LCBG part consists of a reciprocating pump, an ambient vaporizer and buffer storage. The reciprocating pump sucks LBG from the storage tank and raises the pressure to around 300 bars, before sending it to the ambient high pressure vaporizer. CBG is then odorized before going to the CBG storage and the dispenser. The buffer unit is gas vessel storage, with a maximum working pressure of 300 bar, enabling fast filling of vehicles. (Nexgen Fueling, 2008)

The LBG part only consists of a centrifugal pump that transfers LBG from the storage tank, through vacuum insulated lines, to the LBG dispenser that dispense LBG at a pressure of 5-8 bar. (Nexgen Fueling, 2008) Some LBG dispensers are supplied with a system for the recovery of the vehicle boil of gas. (Cryostar, 2008a) To reduce methane losses all venting lines are collected and sent back to the higher parts of the storage tank, to be reliquaries by the cold LBG. (Heisch, 2008) (Ref: Nina Johanssan, Lunds Universitet)

Economics of LBG: The LNG trucks averages about 2.8 miles per gallon of LNG, equating to about 4.7 miles per DEG. Table 5 compares the energy content, fuel economy and DEG fuel economy. The greenhouse emission is completely eliminated by using LBG.


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