Current Status of Biological Biogas Upgrading Technologies
To limit global warming, ratio of renewable sources in the energy mix has to be considerably raised in the following years. While application of e.g. wind and solar power usually generates fluctuations in the electric grid, biogas produced in anaerobic processes is an easy-to-store renewable energy source. Raw biogas contains generally ~55–70% methane and ~30–45% carbon-dioxide. Although raw biogas can be utilized directly for combustion or combined heat and power generation (CHP), its methane content can be raised to >95% by upgrading technologies, thus it can be valorized. By upgrading and cleaning, the quality of the upgraded biogas may reach the quality of the natural gas and it may be injected to the gas grid or used as fuel for devices optimized for natural gas. Several physico-chemical upgrading methods are available on the market (e.g. high pressure water scrubbing, pressure swing adsorption, membrane technology, etc.) to remove the carbon-dioxide content of the biogas. Opposite to the physico-chemical methods, where basically the CO2 removal is the main goal, in biological biogas upgrading technologies microorganisms are applied to convert the carbon-dioxide content of the biogas to methane (chemoautotrophic upgrading), or algal biomass (photoautotrophic upgrading). The expectations are high towards biological biogas upgrading technologies in the field of energy storage linked with carbon-dioxide capture. In this paper, latest research results concerning biological biogas upgrading are summarized, viability and competitiveness of this technology is discussed together with the most important future development directions.