Biogas from manure, sugars from the wood: innovative circular business cases from Estonia

The unique technologies for the production of energy from cattle slurry and grass silage by “BIOMETAAN OÜ” and cutting-edge processes in making a new generation of sugars and high purity lignin from wood residues by “FIBENOL OÜ” were represented to the CIRCULAR project members during annual meeting of team in Tartu.

“BIOMETAAN OÜ” is the first agricultural biomethane producer in Baltics started operation in 2018. It is located nearby the cattle farm, providing the plant with the slurry and manure of 1,700 cows as well as grass silage (10,000 t/y). Biogas is obtained by anaerobic digestion of this organic waste. Raw biogas converted into biomethane and used as a transport fuel. In Estonia it drives a significant part of public transport. The company produces 1.5 million m3 of biomethane, which is equivalent to 1,500,000 liters of petrol. The price of compressed biomethane is 0.84–0.93 €/kg. A passenger car needs 3.5-4.5 kg of methane fuel to travel 100 km. The same distance of driving with gasoline or diesel costs 21.56-27.72 €.

BIOMETAAN OÜ also tests an innovative technology of producing energy and heat by Biogas Fuel Cell Cogeneration System. The system has nominal electrical output of 60 kilowatts, and over 20 kilowatts of heat. It will be used to provide renewable energy for the company’s own needs. In the future, this Cogeneration System is supposed to be used for providing energy to the other small-scale industries and households.

“FIBENOL OÜ” is a spin-off company of Graanul Invest Group – one of the biggest pellet producers and providers of renewable energy in Europe. Fibenol invented a novel solution of creating sustainable biomaterials as high purity lignin, cellulose and wood sugars from the wood residues. The groundbreaking fractionation process, based on Sweetwater Energy Sunburst pretreatment technology, allows to convert more than 90% of woody biomass into high-value products. In 2023 demo level industry of Fibenol will be opened with the annual production of around 8,000 tons of lignin and 20,000 tons of cellulose wood sugars. This wood processing derivatives are supposed to replace petrochemical value-chains when used for production of such stuff as bio-bitumen, thermoplastic, as fuel additives; for packaging as adhesives, surface coatings; for construction as resins, insulation foams; for feed industry, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics production.

Fibenol company effectively applies circular economy technologies, trying to do more with the less: 100% of renewable energy for company’s needs is supplied from nearby Graanul Invest plant. 95% of water, used in the process, is reusable.