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Search opportunities

Developing innovative sensors to measure biological parameters on site in a methanizer

Cities of Tomorrow
16/02/2015

By ENGIE

closure date 30/05/2015

The call for projects is anchored in ENGIE’s overall plans for supporting the development of renewable energies, specifically in the Biogas/Biomethane sector.


Biogas is a source of renewable energy that results from the decomposition of organic matter (agricultural or industrial waste, etc.) by microorganisms in an environment without oxygen. It can be used for heat and electricity or, after purification, as a combustible and a replacement for natural gas.

This “green” energy source forms an integral part of national-level goals for attaining renewable energy production. The field is being ambitiously developed in France, aiming for 10% of ga


Monitoring the biological environment inside the methanizer involves several variables. Some can already be measured on a continuous basis (pH, temperature) while others require the operator to take a sample and to conduct an analysis either onsite or at an external lab.

The negative consequences of this situation are that:

  • The operator can only react once results are received (if they show changes)
  • The way in which the sample is taken can affect how representative


Objectives

Biogas is a source of renewable energy that results from the decomposition of organic matter (agricultural or industrial waste, etc.) by microorganisms in an environment without oxygen. It can be used for heat and electricity or, after purification, as a combustible and a replacement for natural gas.

This “green” energy source forms an integral part of national-level goals for attaining renewable energy production. The field is being ambitiously developed in France, aiming for 10% of gas in the network to be renewable by 2030.

Managing what happens in the digestion unit (kinetics, competing mechanisms) is one of the major issues involved in improving the optimization and the availability of a production plant and the site’s visibility. This technical mastery comes from the ability to “take the pulse” of a methanizer at any time in order to predict its biological behavior based on the substrates that are put into it.

Recent developments in connected systems as well as low-cost nanotechnologies for measuring functions on-site could make it easier to considerably improve and to simplify the measurement of key parameters involved in methanization.

Methanization and digester monitoring

Monitoring the biological environment inside the methanizer involves several variables. Some can already be measured on a continuous basis (pH, temperature) while others require the operator to take a sample and to conduct an analysis either onsite or at an external lab.

The negative consequences of this situation are that:

  • The operator can only react once results are received (if they show changes)
  • The way in which the sample is taken can affect how representative it is of the entire methanizer
  • The time and the way in which a sample is preserved affect analytical results

Also, certain criteria within the digester must be modified based on the importance of the problems encountered. Earlier identification makes it more likely that the problem will be solved.

This call for projects specifically involves projects related to:

  • The volatile fatty acid content in biogas
  • The conductivity and oxydo-reduction potential of the environment;
  • Means of conducting robust, continuous online measurements of dry materials, pH and alkalinity
  • Measurements of overall parameters of biogas (ex. Isotopic footprint, odor footprint, etc.)

These developments could involve new or improved measurement probes, including probes that are stable in difficult or corrosive environments such as substrates. They should be robust, reliable and require minimal maintenance.

Eligibility and selection criteria

The applications will be assessed based on several criteria.

  • Pertinent to the subject
  • Innovative nature (new technologies/connectivity)
  • Technology’s level of maturity
  • Potential benefits/Feasibility
  • Capacity for being tested and or rapidly deployed
  • Appropriateness of the technology for practical use
  • Societal, environmental and energy performance
  • Implementation in existing processing and supervision tools

The selection committee

A jury composed of experts from the ENGIE GROUP and its subsidiaries as well as local and national economic actors will select the winning projects.

Composition of the jury*:

  • Innovation experts from ENGIE
  • Representatives from ENGIE’s local entities
  • Experts from universities and relevant institutions

Rewards and benefits for the selected projects

This call for projects is intended to be a significant innovation accelerator.

The selected projects will benefit from the following:

  • Assistance from ENGIE subsidiaries and experts in order to accelerate their development and materialization
  • Assured visibility in dedicated events, in the press and among supporting partners (the Internet of Things Cluster)
  • A space for testing, experimenting and real-life demonstrations.

* External and internal events organized by the ENGIE Group

 

Selection procedure

  • Phase 1. An initial selection based on submitted applications.
  • Phase 2. The project leaders for selected projects will be invited to spend 20 minutes presenting their project for members of the selection committee at the end of March 2015.

Provisional calendar

  • Saturday, May 30th, 2015 at midnight: application deadline
  • Saturday, May 30th – Monday, June 15th, 2015: Phase 1 Analysis of projects submitted and initial round of project selections
  • Monday, June 15th – Friday, June 19th 2015: Phase 2 / Leaders of those projects initially selected will present their projects to the Selection Committee
  • End of June 2015: final decision and announcement of the winner.