With its “Vert l’Avenir” enterprise project, GRDF makes the greening of gas and carbon neutrality the spearhead of its strategy; in particular by promoting biomethane production.
Biomethane is a 100% renewable and decarbonated gas produced using waste from the agri-food industry, catering, agricultural and household waste or residue, or even sludge from sewage treatment plants. This treated biogas has the same properties as natural gas (and therefore the same uses) and can be injected into the gas distribution system.
In accordance with its mission to promote biomethane injection, GRDF has an interest in making biomethane more competitive and therefore cares about all solutions that could optimise methanisation by improving existing processes or by innovating. Projects must be situated in the field of digestion. The recovery of biogas is covered by a separate call for projects.
Methanisation is a biological process in which organic matter breaks down in the absence of oxygen (it is also known as anaerobic digestion). It is the result of the action of micro-organisms that convert the material into biogas, mainly consisting of methane and carbon dioxide. This takes place in four successive phases: hydrolysis, acidogenesis, acetogenesis, and methanogenesis. Methanisers sustain this biological process to produce and then recover biogas.
Currently, the most common model is the infinitely mixed single digester, within which the physical parameters are uniform. However, the existence of a more efficient process should not be ruled out. The purpose of this call for projects is to explore innovative solutions offering improvements to the methanisation process itself.
Projects can look at ways to improve performance or reduce costs and can involve either an incremental or a disruptive innovation.
Optimisation of the digestion process
Projects can remain in the context of an infinitely mixed digester, aiming to improve one or more aspects of the process.
Acceleration of one or more phase(s) of methanisation. Example: innovative support for biofilm fixation (like magnetic beads);
Increasing the methane yield. Example: adding an additive;
Reducing the energy consumption (electricity and heat). Examples: better insulation, identifying an optimum mode of operation;
Reduction of biogas flare losses. Example: adjustment of biogas production according to consumption (storage solutions are not the subject of this call for projects);
Reducing the initial investment whilst maintaining constant performance and safety.
Examples: simplifying the digester, fine-tuning the safety margins, using more economical materials (which could be made possible by another innovation, such as lowering the corrosivity).
Solutions suggesting disruptive methanisation methods will be of particular interest. These methods can be totally innovative or can highlight an existing concept that is not very widespread.
Applying a pretreatment can be an effective way to increase the yield of a methaniser. It can reduce the amount of time that material stays in the digester (thereby reducing the size of the installation for the same flow), or can increase the quantity of biogas produced, or its methane content. Projects may propose new mechanical, chemical, or even biological pre-treatments that increase the performance/cost ratio of the process.
Don’t hesitate to think out of the box! Be careful, however, to stay within the theme of methanisation. This call for projects does not concern renewable methane in general. Moreover, proposing a disruptive solution will not exempt the proposal from being evaluated according to the criteria of economic viability and feasibility (see the criteria at the end of the text).
Candidates have until 31 May 2021 to submit their project(s) by completing the form below. A given candidate may propose several projects, but only one will be selected. The successful candidates in this call for projects will receive GRDF support of up to €40,000 towards the completion of their project.
GRDF will evaluate the projects according to the following criteria:
- Innovative aspect: solutions that are truly new, at least in the biomethane sector, will receive preference;
- Economic viability: the purpose of this call for projects is to find solutions that can ultimately reduce the cost of biomethane production. A rational estimate of the impact of the solution on the cost if the solution were industrialised would be appreciated;
- Feasibility: the solution must be technically viable and industrialisable, and its effectiveness must be demonstrable, at a reasonable cost, which must be estimated;
- Increased performance: the solution must provide a sufficient increase in performance to justify its adoption, and this increase must be measurable by building a demonstrator.
Projects will be preselected according to these objective criteria and then examined in front of a panel, who will then announce the winner(s). The selection of the winner(s) will be publicised by GRDF.