Five reasons to upgrade your legacy CHP engine

Combined heat and power (CHP) engines are one of the most crucial components of an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, converting biogas into usable heat and electricity. As the UK AD industry continues to mature, many of the CHPs originally installed on biogas plants across the country are now reaching 48,000 hours of operation, at which point they require an E70 service. But with technology evolving at such a rapid rate, this major servicing milestone also represents an opportunity to bring your legacy engine into the digital era. 

Here, James Thompson, managing director of Gen-C, an independent CHP parts and service provider, gives us five key benefits of combining your E70 service with a biogas-specific engine upgrade:

  1. Access your own engine for freedom of choice

If you’re tied into an expensive, long-term, monthly engine service contract, the E70 milestone (when contracts are often up for renewal) is the ideal moment to choose an alternative servicing option that works for you. 

Despite reports of long waits for engineer callouts and delays for engines to be restarted, many CHP operators stick with substandard servicing contracts because they cannot access their own engine’s control panel; only the service provider can. Quite simply, they feel that they don’t have a choice. 

By replacing your legacy engine control panel with a smart, open-access Motortech version, we can unlock your engine’s controls and put the power back in your hands. Bringing engine management into the digital era, it enables you to restart your own engine instantly and remotely, increasing CHP uptime. Most importantly, it also gives you the freedom to choose a flexible, pay-as-you-go alternative approach to engine servicing, without being locked into a restrictive long-term contract.

  1. Navigate staffing issues with remote control  

Covid has accelerated the trend for remote working, and plant owners are keen to ensure their workforce is kept safe. In addition, Brexit and the pandemic have combined to create an unprecedented labour shortage. As a solution to help reduce staffing levels while maintaining business continuity, our open-access control panel upgrades include remote CHP monitoring and control as standard, helping to relieve labour pinch points at AD plants around the country. 

Enabling you to get on with the job of running your AD plant or farm without fear of constant process interruptions, you’ll receive an instant alert on your phone or laptop any time your engine shuts down. You can then simply dial in and remotely restart your CHP yourself within seconds, increasing engine availability, requiring fewer staff to be on site and enabling existing workers to be redeployed to more value-added tasks.

  1. Benefit from technological advances to reduce emissions

If your engine is reaching its E70 servicing milestone, it may be six years or more since it was last updated. Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and the advances that have occurred during that time are considerable. Regulations have also evolved, meaning that your legacy engine may no longer be compliant with the latest emissions targets, or with those expected to come into force over the next few years.

Coinciding your E70 service with a biogas-specific upgrade (and thereby limiting the time it’s out of action) will ensure your CHP engine is ready for the digital era. As well as open-access control panels, it can be brought up to date with a range of smart, responsive biogas-specific parts such as fuel mixers, ignition controllers, knocking control systems and speed controls that can be programmed to accurately match the composition of the biogas being processed. The result is a finely tuned, biogas-specific, emissions-compliant CHP engine with fewer process interruptions, lean energy utilisation and optimised electricity production. 

  1. Increase engine uptime

Reaction times from large engine service providers can be slow, with reports of plant operators waiting hours and sometimes even days for an engineer to arrive and manually restart their CHPs. Upgrading your legacy engine with a digital, open-access control panel will greatly boost your engine’s uptime, cutting the wait time to just seconds.

In addition, all our open-access control panels come with the IGS-LOG as standard. An intelligent CHP monitoring system, the IGS-LOG constantly tracks live data across 32 parameters - such as fuel ratio, oil quality and battery voltage - that can be individually set by the operator via a user-friendly touch screen. It then uses this data to inform operational decisions and assist with process improvements, ensuring downtime is kept to an absolute minimum.

  1. Facilitate predictive maintenance

Unlike a mechanical system where problems are only discovered once something breaks down and performance is already impacted, the fact that our upgraded engines comprise the digital IGS-LOG system means they are generating constant, real-time feedback. This can help you to run your plant better by pre-empting engine failure and identifying deterioration in performance before it affects your bottom line. 

Enabling you to understand what constitutes normal operation for your engine and spot any downward trends or anomalies before they affect its smooth operation, it also promotes faster, slicker and more responsive remote troubleshooting to improve operational efficiency and facilitate predictive maintenance. Not only does this reduce engine downtime but it also extends your asset’s lifespan by helping you to spot signs of deterioration before they start to impact your engine.


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