Posted by Lathrop Trotter & filed under News.

Biogas and Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) show great promise as a sustainable energy source for the future. They are produced from organic materials such as agricultural waste, food waste, wastewater, and other biomass sources. Since these materials are continuously generated by natural processes or human activities, biogas and RNG are considered renewable energy sources. Their production helps reduce reliance on finite fossil fuels and contributes to overall sustainability goals.

Sustainable Energy for Bourbon Distilleries

Lathrop Trotter Industrial & HVAC Division Manager, TJ. Mueller was recently invited to take part in a presentation on Stillage Alternative Use at the Annual James B. Beam Institute Industry conference. His remarks focused on how biogas and RNG can be utilized in bourbon distilleries as sustainable energy sources to power various operations within the production process.

Biogas Generation

Biogas is produced through the anaerobic digestion of organic materials such as agricultural waste, food waste, or wastewater. In bourbon distilleries, biogas can be generated from various sources like stillage, wastewater, or other organic byproducts of the distillation process. These organic materials are broken down by microorganisms in an oxygen-free environment, producing methane-rich biogas.Once produced, biogas can be used in a couple of ways:

  • Burned to produce steam or hot water, which is used in the distillation process for heating the mash or in other parts of the production process requiring thermal energy
  • Used to generate electricity through the operation of gas turbines or engines coupled with generators; powering various electrical equipment in the distillery. Then the heat exhaust from the el

Burning Biogas in a Boiler

As industrial boiler experts, Lathrop Trotter team members are commonly asked if it is permissible to burn biogas from a digester in a boiler. The answer is yes, however a gas analysis is needed. This includes:

  • BTU Content
  • Siloxanes
  • H2S Concentration

There are challenges that need to be addressed, so it is necessary to deal with any impurities that are involved, and also factor in pressure considerations relative to the BTU content. OSHA and EPA regulations for individual states must be considered.

Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)

RNG is a purified form of biogas that has been processed to remove impurities such as carbon dioxide and moisture, resulting in a gas that is almost pure methane. This purified methane can then be injected into natural gas pipelines or used as a transportation fuel.In bourbon distilleries, RNG can be produced from biogas generated through anaerobic digestion, similar to the process for biogas. RNG, however, undergoes additional purification steps to meet pipeline quality standards or other specific requirements. Upon production, RNG can be used in various ways within bourbon distilleries:

  • For heat or electricity generation, or for steam production within the distillery
  • Injected into natural gas pipelines for a wide range of applications

Biogas and RNG for Cogeneration

Cogeneration allows biogas and RNG to be used in combined heat and power (CHP) systems. The combustion of biogas or RNG in an engine or turbine generates both electricity and heat. The electricity can be used for a variety of distillery processes to optimize energy efficiency through organic waste streams.

Learn More About Sustainable Energy Through Biogas and RNG

Using biogas and RNG in bourbon distilleries and other facilities not only helps reduce the environmental footprint of the distillation process by utilizing renewable energy sources but also offers potential cost savings and energy independence for the distillery. Additionally, it aligns with sustainability goals and demonstrates a commitment to environmental stewardship.

Learn more by viewing T.J.’s full presentation below, or contact us to discuss your specific project.

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