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Biogas from brewery wastewater makes power with a fuel cell

By Gerald Ondrey |

This month, a demonstration project to generate power from fuel cells running on biogas has begun at Asahi Breweries’ Ibaraki Brewery. Coordinated by Asahi Quality & Innovations, Ltd., an independent research subsidiary of Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan; www.asahigroup-holdings.com), the project is being conducted as part of the Japanese government’s Low Carbon Technology Research, Development and Demonstration Program, with subsidies from the Ministry of the Environment.

In the project (diagram), biogas is first collected from the brewery’s wastewater treatment plant and then refined into methane. The methane is then used as fuel for a 200-kW Megamie solid-oxide fuell cell (SOFC), from Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd. (MHPS; Yokohama; www.power.mhi.com), to generate electric power. Once in operation, the facility will be capable of supplying around 1,600 MWh/yr of power — sufficient to power 350 ordinary households, with projected reductions in CO2 emissions of around 1,000 metric tons per year.

biogas

With the goal of reducing CO2 emissions, Asahi Group has been working to introduce power generation facilities utilizing high-energy conversion efficiency fuel cells to secure base electricity power to operate its factories. In June 2018, the company had developed a process to refine the biogas generated during the treatment of brewery wastewater to a high purity, allowing it to be utilized as the power source with carbon-neutral fuel cells. The company conducted tests to generate power with small SOFCs using this refined biogas, and in May 2019 successfully generated power continuously for 10,000 hours. Asahi Group has now begun the final stage of testing for practical application with the installation in the Ibaraki Brewery of a MHPS Megamie SOFC system, which was first commercialized in 2017 to run on ordinary town gas. This project is the first application using biogas derived from brewery wastewater as fuel.

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