Pentair: Enhancing sustainability through accurate biogas upgrading assessment

The SFP Zeeland plant from air.
Biogas Production

In an era where sustainable and renewable energy sources are imperative, biogas stands out as a promising solution. However, maximizing its potential necessitates efficient utilization, achieved through biogas upgrade systems. These systems play a pivotal role in enhancing the quality and utility of biogas, propelling it beyond a mere source of energy.

One notable example in this field is Pentair, a recognized leader known for engineering advanced biogas upgrade systems. Pentair's expertise lies in designing and implementing cutting-edge solutions that elevate biogas to a standard comparable to natural gas. Through their precise engineering and innovative technologies, Pentair empowers biogas to seamlessly integrate into existing infrastructure, unlocking a spectrum of sustainable applications. With a track record of over half a decade, Pentair has been instrumental in deploying sustainable solutions, including CO2 recovery plants and biogas upgrading systems. 

Biogas upgrading systems, such as the ones engineered by Pentair, play a pivotal role in maximizing the potential of biogas as a sustainable and clean energy source. These systems enhance the energy content of biogas by concentrating methane and reducing impurities, enabling it to match the quality of natural gas. This upgraded biogas, often termed biomethane or renewable natural gas, can be seamlessly integrated into existing natural gas grids, providing a direct, clean, and renewable energy supply. It serves as an environmentally friendly fuel, significantly lowering carbon dioxide emissions when utilized for electricity generation, heating, or transportation. Moreover, the ability to store and transport upgraded biogas efficiently enhances its role as a reliable and sustainable energy storage solution.

By transforming organic waste into valuable energy and supporting a circular economy, these systems contribute to waste reduction and efficient utilization of biomass resources. “In our pursuit of sustainable progress, we believe in remaining vigilant and thorough, implementing careful controls to minimize revenue losses for our customers while ensuring that our biogas upgrading plants minimize methane slip during purification, thus making a positive contribution to the energy transition and sustainability goals”, explains Machiel van Essen, NPD Project Manager ─ Technology at Pentair.

Pentair operates a facility called Pentair Haffmans in Venlo, The Netherlands, where they engineer and manufacture analysis equipment for breweries, CO2 recovery installations, and biogas upgrading systems. Sustainable Fuel Plant (SFP), an innovative facility dedicated to the production and advancement of sustainable energy solutions, approached Pentair to evaluate the biogas upgrading system that had been installed by Pentair at the SFP site, located in Westdorpe, The Netherlands. This collaboration extended further through Pentair's partnership with Vaisala, a leading provider of measurement instruments, who played a crucial role in the successful assessment of the biogas upgrading system. 


The Challenge

The assessment of the biogas upgrading system at Sustainable Fuel Plant (SFP) brought forth a specific set of challenges that demanded a meticulous approach. Firstly, achieving precise analysis of both the biogas feed flow and the process permeate flow (offgas) was deemed critical due to the complex composition of gases involved. Any inaccuracies in the process had the potential to cause elevated CH4 levels in the permeate flow, which could significantly impact the revenue of biogas upgrading sites.

Operating under challenging wet conditions was an additional hurdle, requiring analyzers that could function effectively despite the high relative humidity in both the biogas feed and permeate flows. Moreover, compliance with ATEX zones, an imperative safety requirement in biogas facilities, had to be ensured. Conducting in-situ analysis was also vital, minimizing the need for new analysis lines and providing a more accurate representation of real-time conditions. Lastly, the analysis was intended to be temporary, necessitating easily implementable and removable analyzers that could adapt to evolving requirements during the assessment process.


The Solution

To surmount the array of challenges posed by the biogas upgrading assessment, Pentair joined forces with Vaisala, a distinguished industry leader renowned for their expertise in measurement instruments and solutions. Vaisala, with their extensive experience and innovation in the field, proposed a strategic solution for the evaluation. They recommended the utilization of their cutting-edge Vaisala MGP261 and MGP262 multigas probes, which proved to be instrumental in addressing the specific requirements of this assessment.

The MGP261 and MGP262 multigas probes offered a remarkable capability to provide real-time process values, precisely within the defined ranges of CH4 and CO2, exhibiting an exceptional level of accuracy. A significant advantage was their adaptability to challenging wet conditions, ensuring reliable performance even in high-humidity environments - a crucial factor given the nature of biogas processing. Moreover, these probes were designed to comply with ATEX zones, meeting the stringent safety regulations of biogas facilities.

Furthermore, the implementation of these probes was streamlined by their threaded process connections, allowing for straightforward integration into the existing system. This feature considerably eased the process of installation, thereby enhancing the efficiency and speed of the assessment, aligning with the project's temporary nature. 

The Vaisala MGP262 installed in a gas pipe
Cutout: The Vaisala MGP262 installed

By synergizing the data obtained from the biogas feed, retentate, and permeate streams, a comprehensive analysis of the entire process was conducted. This holistic approach allowed for a thorough assessment, enabling a deep understanding of the dynamics and efficiency of the biogas upgrading system. The analysis revealed that Pentair's process design conformed rigorously to the specified design criteria. This validation provided a strong assurance to SFP that the biogas upgrading system was functioning precisely as intended, in alignment with the set objectives and performance expectations. 

The successful implementation of the MGP261 and MGP262 multigas probes proved to be a pivotal step in evaluating the biogas upgrading system at the Sustainable Fuel Plant (SFP). The probes functioned seamlessly, delivering accurate and precise measurements throughout the assessment period. Accurate measurement and optimization of methane and CO2 levels are fundamental to enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of the biogas upgrading process. The precision achieved in these measurements ensures that the upgraded biogas meets the desired quality standards, aligning with sustainability objectives.

“We are committed to sustainable progress, and we always strive to prevent revenue losses for our customers by applying rigorous controls. Our biogas upgrading plants also reduce methane emissions which we measure with Vaisala MGP261 and MGP262 multigas instruments to optimize the purification process. This way, we contribute positively to the energy transition and sustainability goals” explains Machiel van Essen, NPD Project Manager ─ Technology at Pentair.

In essence, the collaboration with Vaisala and the utilization of their state-of-the-art multigas probes proved to be a pivotal step in successfully navigating the intricate challenges posed by the assessment, ultimately ensuring a thorough and accurate evaluation of the biogas upgrading system at the Sustainable Fuel Plant (SFP).



In summary, the collaboration between Pentair and Vaisala, leveraging the MGP261 and MGP262 multigas probes, demonstrated the effectiveness of these instruments in verifying the performance of the biogas upgrading system at the Sustainable Fuel Plant site. The ease of installation and reliable performance make these probes a valuable extension of Pentair's process analysis kit. Moreover, this successful configuration, made possible through collaboration with Vaisala, has the potential to be offered to Pentair customers in the future, enabling the tracking of both process and material performance, aligning with Pentair's commitment to sustainable and responsible solutions in the field of gases.



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