This post is a part of BioBiz’s Bio-CNG Perspectives.
BioBiz, a division of EAI, is a leading market intelligence & strategic consulting firm for the Indian bio-based sectors.
This blog post uses the terms bio-CNG and renewable natural gas (RNG) interchangeably.
Bio-CNG or bio-compressed natural gas, also known as sustainable natural gas or biomethane, is a biogas which has been upgraded to a quality similar to fossil natural gas and having a methane concentration of 90% or greater. As the gas is derived from natural and renewable sources, it is also termed renewable natural gas (RNG).
Bio-CNG is a recent sector in India. While many developments have resulted in a significant improvement of the anaerobic digestion technology compared to the traditional method, still more innovations are expected in the near future which are expected to significantly improve the technology in all means – process efficiency, yield, economics and more. It would thus be helpful for an entrepreneur to analyse the current status of RNG technology in India and trends in the next 10 years. This blog post provides a brief analysis of the current RNG technology status and future trends.
Current status of RNG technology
RNG production technology is robust with several innovations such as upgradation, scrubbing and the processes followed for the same. However, more innovations to enhance the efficiency of the process are needed
The technology is flexible for use of wide range of organic wastes – industrial, commercial and agro wastes, unlike the conventional anaerobic digestion technology which relied on farm waste as the major feedstock
High-value, high-quality end product
With latest technology developments involving scrubbing and upgradation techniques, it is possible for the production of premium product called renewable natural gas, a product with quality similar to natural gas and with higher calorific value compared to biogas
Potential for setting up large scale plants
While traditional anaerobic digestion technology has been applicable for setting up small-scale domestic plants, recent advancements in the technology enables the implementation of large scale, modular facilities of capacities 100 TPD and more
With product enhancement and a range of market segments, the market price of the end product RNG has increased, resulting in attractive economics to the project developer. It is also possible to valorise the by-products from the process – CO2 and digestate, thus adding an advantage towards favourable economics
Trends in digester technology in the next 10 years
Innovations are expected to enhance the current status of the technology to meet the global standards
End products and by-products with improved quality
While the RNG produced currently has over 93% methane, with technology disruptions, especially upgradation mechanisms, it is possible to produce RNG with >97% methane. It is also possible to enhance the quality and market valorization of by-products – digestate and CO2
Use of other agro residues
While currently only paddy straw and Napier grass are being tried out for production of RNG in India, over the next 10 years, other agro residues such as wheat straw, corn cobs and other energy crops are expected to be sourced as potential feedstocks for production of RNG
Developments in pre-processing steps at lesser costs
In the case of agro waste as a feedstock for RNG plant, while the current pre-processing mechanisms are nascent and expensive, in the next 10 years, innovations in the pre-processing steps are expected to enhance the yield of biogas at reduced costs
RNG technology is thus expected to have several innovations in the value chain to improve the efficiency and economics of the project which would attract more prospective investors to implement large scale projects.
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