EnviTec gas upgrading sees boost from improved membranes

EnviTec’s gas upgrading has seen a performance boost from improved membranes, increasing separation capacity.

The company now has 49 gas upgrading plants in operation in six countries around the world, with a further 15 under construction. EnviTec said this is all part of the EnviThan success story for efficient and environmentally-friendly gas upgrading technology.

“In just eight years, our pioneering technique has become a benchmark for the international gas upgrading market,” said Jürgen Tenbrink, CTO at EnviTec.

Driven by strong demand for gas upgrading ‘made in Germany’, especially from Denmark and France, the company’s Saerbeck site also continues to grow. Production has been expanded, following the leasing of suitable factory premises in the area. Warehouse space has also been enlarged to handle the logistics for the orders coming in from China.

Following its German market launch in 2012, the gas upgrading process developed by EnviTec and Evonik Industries rapidly gained popularity in China, Denmark, France, and the UK.

“In 2020, Estonia became the most recent country to be added to our order book”, said Stefan Laumann, head of EnviTec’s gas upgrading department. “We already have two plants running there, and a third is now being built.

“Like Evonik, a global leader in speciality chemicals, EnviTec’s plant engineers are also dependent on innovation-driven development in our work.”

Volker Wehber, director of SEPURAN Green in Evonik’s membranes business segment, said: “After achieving optimisations in the manufacturing process, we were able to increase the separation capacity from an initial 2,950 to 7,700 in 2018. In 2020, we then passed a new milestone by developing a high-performance polymer to achieve a separation capacity of 12,500.”

The greater separation capacity makes fewer membranes necessary, according to Laumann, which in turn leads to a higher upgrading capacity per container. “In a nutshell,” he said, “we simply need less space for the membranes. While 270 4-inch modules were installed in the plant in Forst, Germany in 2014, the new generation of membranes would today only need 60 6-inch modules.

“Within Germany as a whole, the potential for biomethane production is greater than previously acknowledged – and that also encourages us in our belief that we are on the right path with our technology.

“This potential was announced by the German gas and water industry association DVGW during a recent online press conference. Together with the German Biogas Association, the DVGW presented the results of two new studies on biomethane in Germany. By 2050, the study authors argue that biomethane could cover the majority of domestic final energy demand, estimated at around 300 TWh.

“However, to really exploit the full potential of biomethane, our industry does require full access to the power, heat, and fuel markets without any discrimination – and there are still many improvements to be made in this respect.”

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