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Biogas introduced to gas utility’s pipeline

October 12. 2010

Osaka Gas, the Kobe Municipal Government, and Kobelco Eco-Solutions announced today that biogas from a sewage plant in Kobe has been introduced to the pipeline network of Osaka Gas.  This is the first attempt in Japan to feed biogas to a gas utility’s pipeline network.  The biogas project has been launched jointly by the Kobe Municipal Government, Kobelco Eco-Solutions Co., Ltd., and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.  The three parties have completed facilities to produce the biogas at the Higashinada Sewage Treatment Plant in Kobe City.

This is Japan’s first attempt to feed biogas derived from sewage sludge and purified to utility gas specifications, directly into a utility gas pipeline.  This project has been undertaken to demonstrate biogas as a renewable energy source for promoting similar projects and achieving effective use of biomass resources.

Biogas, a flammable gas comprised primarily of methane, is produced through fermentation of organic matter such as sewage sludge and food residues.  Expectations are being heightened for its effective use as a means for mitigating global warming by utilizing this unused renewable energy resource.

Since fiscal 2004, the Kobe Municipal Government and Kobelco Eco-Solutions have operated the Kobe Biogas project, purifying biogas produced at the Higashinada Sewage Treatment Plant in Kobe for use as fuel for vehicles. Kobe Biogas is a high-quality gas, more than 97% of which consists of methane. To use the biogas more widely, since fiscal 2008 the municipal government, Kobelco Eco-Solutions and Osaka Gas have studied its use as a utility gas in accordance with the Biogas Purchasing Guidelines, a set of standards established by Osaka Gas.

During the past year, installation of additional equipment was made using the government subsidies for promoting biogas for removing minor constituents such as oxygen and carbon dioxide to meet calorific value specifications. Since then, test runs have been conducted to purify the biogas to the equivalent quality level to the utility gas supplied by Osaka Gas. After verifying that the biogas meets the required standards, it has been decided to feed the gas to the utility’s gas pipeline.

In this project, the three parties will develop techniques for efficient operation and supplying of biogas into the utility gas pipeline by addressing the following tasks: (1) ensuring stability in feeding biogas into utility gas pipeline, (2) collection and analysis of facility operation data, (3) project balance and profitability assessment, (4) analysis of and solutions to technical problems, and (5) establishment of operation and maintenance systems.

The Higashinada approach is characterized by highly purifying biogas from local biomass and supplying it directly as utility gas without putting it through a gasworks. This achieves full effective use of biogas produced at sewage treatment plants, without the constraints associated with distance between a biogas production plant and a gashouse. Moreover, in supplying biogas along with utility gas, this attempt is a perfect solution to stable supply of a renewable energy source.

The project is expected to perform well as a model of recycling-based society, in which the citizens of Kobe will use the biogas as a renewable energy created from sewage sludge produced in Kobe City.

Project Overview
The project seeks to purify biogas (digester gas) produced at the Higashinada Sewage Treatment Plant to the same quality level as utility gas, and to supply it as utility gas via pipelines operated by the gas utility company.
2.Project members and their roles
- Kobe Municipal Government: supplier of biogas.
- Kobelco Eco-Solutions: builder and operator of advanced purification facilities
- Osaka Gas: buyer of highly purified biogas and supplier of the gas through its pipeline network
3.Term of project
October 19, 2009 (effective date of government subsidies) - March 31, 2021
4.Performance of CO2 emissions reduction of the project
The volume of biogas introduced in the early stage of this project will be approximately 800,000m3(45 MJ/m3), which is equivalent to the volume consumed by approximately 2,000 households a year, and to a CO2 emissions reduction of 1,200 t-CO2/year.

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