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Remo-Frit converts potato peels and sludge into biogas

Food processors turn to waste as alternative energy consumption

By Jenny Eagle+

06-Jun-2014

Food processors are increasingly looking for alternative ways of converting their waste into energy due to soaring electricity costs in Europe, according to Global Water Engineering (GWE).

The company has installed a wastewater treatment and Raptor (Rapid Transformation of Organic Residues) plant at Remo-Frit potato processing factory in Verrebroek,Belgium.

Chilled produce

By digesting 3,300 m³ of potato peels and sludge it can produce up to 14,150 m³ of biogas per day to run an enormous volume of refrigerators to keep its potato products such as French fries, chilled before delivery.

Pascal Pipyn, executive VP process and R&D, GWE, told FoodProductionDaily it installed abiogas engine (CHP) of 1,200 kW in September and a second one has been ordered for July 2014.

We are seeing an increase in demand for the Raptor and anaerobic wastewater system because they both produce biogas and the alternative is paying for electricity that would otherwise be bought from the grid,” he said.

This is increasingly the case globally and particularly in Europe, where food and beverage producers are highly focused on minimizing waste and making the most of by-products in re-use, recycling and recovery.”

Remo-Frit exports a range of its own potato products to markets in Europe, America, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

A biogas engine (CHP) was installed in the first stage of the project and a second one of about 500 kW is being ordered to cope with increasing biogas production due to a factory expansion in two years’ time.

TNAV association

Pipyn added the firm got in touch with GWE via the KdD university college of Antwerp, Hoboken campus. They are also both members of TNAV, the Thematical Network of Flemish Wastewater Treatment , an association of companies and know-how centres active in the field of wastewater treatment.   

The Raptor processis a anaerobic digestion which in this applicationconsists of a mechanical pretreatment of potato peels, thermophilic hydrolysis in a TAR (Thermophilic Acidogenic Reactor) followed by methane fermentation in a thermophilic digester of the Anamix-T type.

On top of that, the anaerobic wastewater treatment plant produces another 3,350 m³ of biogas per day.Together, this amount of biogas is equivalent to 8,410 kg or 9,834 l of light fuel oil per day or 3,106 tons of fossil fuel a year, nearly $4m,” he added.

The GWE technology is represented in Australasia by CST Wastewater Solutions and the Flemish Government invested $0.6m as a grant.

Pipyn added, along with electricity from the biogas produced from wastewater and solid residue, steam is produced from the hot exhaust gases from the biogas engine. This is used for cooking higher grade organic residues for animal feed.

CEER watchdog

FPD contacted CEER (Council of European Energy Regulators) to ask about soaring electricity prices. It confirmed European consumers' electricity and gas prices have risen and are still rising, according to Directive 2008/92/EC as mentioned in its Energy prices and costs in Europe document, January 2014.

It said: ‘Whilst almost all Member States have seen a consistent rise in consumer prices of electricity and gas, the differences between different national prices remain large: consumers in the highest priced Member States are paying 2.5 to 4 times as much as those in the lowest priced Member States.

The gap between the highest and lowest prices paid for electricity and gas by consumers across Member States has widened over time, especially in the case of household gas prices. So rather than European prices converging and markets becoming more efficient, differences at national level persist.”

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