ReFood and Flogas partner up to feed the grid

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:

A food waste management company opened its first UK gas-to-grid anaerobic digestion plant in June 2014 – and is now reported to be generating enough biomethane to heat 10,000 homes a year, as well as benefitting from RHI payments, with the help of a specialist propane enrichment solution from Flogas.

ReFood, which operates anaerobic digestion (AD) plants across Europe, opened its first UK plant in Doncaster, South Yorkshire in 2011 to generate grid-ready electricity. The company’s AD plant in Widnes, Cheshire is its first purpose-built gas-to-grid site in the UK. The site has three digesters, and a fourth one is currently under construction.

Once the fourth digester has been commissioned, the plant is expected to have the capacity to treat up to 160,000 tonnes of waste per year. The plant runs on feedstock made up of food waste from local shops, restaurants, prisons, schools and dairies, and is used to generate high-quality biomethane.

According to ReFood, after clean-up, the resulting biomethane must be injected with propane to bring it up to a high enough standard for injecting into the national gas grid. This is also essential for the biomethane to qualify for renewable heat incentive (RHI) payments from the government.

Shane Murray, group project engineer at SARIA (ReFood’s parent company), said': “At ReFood, we specialise in the sustainable recovery of commercial food waste. When SARIA partnered with PDM Group a few years ago, we saw an opportunity to combine our experience and invest in a series of AD plants across the UK under the ReFood brand. Following the success of our first electricity-generating plant in Doncaster, we decided that the second site in Widnes was to generate biomethane for direct injection into the national gas grid.”

The Flogas project management team specified, designed and installed a complete propane injection system at ReFood’s Widnes plant. This is made up of a 22-tonne underground propane storage tank and a bespoke liquid propane injection kit. The enrichment process works by adding a percentage of propane to the biomethane to increase its calorific value – altering its energy profile so that it matches that of natural gas. Flogas supplies the plant with regular propane deliveries through its nationwide LPG delivery network. When propane in the tank reaches an agreed level, an order is automatically generated by its in-built telemetry unit. The new plant is reported to now be fully operational, and delivered average monthly biomethane volumes of 782,000m3throughout 2016, as well as earning regular RHI payments.

Greg Brown, national account manager at Flogas, said: “Ultimately, ReFood was looking for a propane expert that they could rely on to deliver in a unique and demanding sector – and at Flogas, that’s exactly what we do. Propane enrichment is such a pivotal part of the gas-to-grid process that the commercials would never stack up without a reliable supplier.”

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