The sector of biomethane from methanisation, a key element in the success of the energy and ecological transition in line with the objectives of France and Europe, is booming. RICE is making a major contribution to this, in particular by accompanying an ecosystem of partners to ensure compliance between the network specifications and the quality of these new renewable methanes.
The first injection of biomethane into a French natural gas network took place just 10 years ago, on 17 June 2011 in Sequedin in the GRDF network, from the Lille Organic Recovery Centre (CVO).
Since then, the sector has developed considerably, with 257 sites injecting biomethane in France as of 31 May 2021, 88% on the distribution networks and 12% on the transport networks. There is a real dynamic with a 74% increase in the number of sites in 2020 compared to 2019, and already 43 sites commissioned in 2021
In addition, there are 1164 new biomethane production and injection projects in France (at the end of 2020).
The CARABIO project was launched in 2016 by RICE with the support of the French network and storage operators GRDF, GRTgaz, Storengy and Teréga. This project is part of the research programme “Preparing networks for the arrival of New Methanes”.
The objectives of this project are to
Since 2016, 63 sampling and measurement campaigns have been carried out on the French network. These campaigns are carried out in order to take into account the diversity of inputs (agricultural waste, STEP, household waste, industrial waste, ISDND) and purification systems (membranes, water purification, amine purification, Pressure Swing Adsorption, cryogenic).
The RICE technicians and engineers have developed specific benches for the biomethane matrix in order to carry out their sampling in the field at the biomethane injection stations.
All the results obtained, including the compounds present in the calibration solutions, are collected and put in a database called CARABIO. This is followed by a statistical study of the analysis results.
All the samplings and statistical studies have made it possible to characterise the compounds of the various biomethanes, depending on the inputs and the purification systems.
Among the first lessons learned from the Carabio project can be noted:
This study also showed that the 15 most frequent compounds were terpenes (limonene, pinene, camphene), ketones (2-butanone) and hydrocarbons. It should be noted that for each of these compounds, the levels remain very low and well below the possible toxicity values when applicable.
These results are in line with those expected. Indeed, the participation of RICE and GRTgaz in various European projects and in standardisation work is focused, among other things, on terpenes and silicate compounds.
The CARABIO project has made it possible to create an initial database on biomethane injected in France, but it is necessary to continue acquiring knowledge on the composition of biomethane, particularly trace compounds. It is also important to determine the impacts of these trace compounds on the network and gas appliances in particular.
Thus RICE continues to carry out measurement campaigns on biomethane injected in France and its involvement in the various European initiatives.
It should be noted that it is partly thanks to the work of RICE that Téréga and Storengy have agreed to inject biomethane into their underground storage facilities since June 2017.
The CARABIO project is in line with current R&D efforts in Europe:
More information on this project in the scientific publication produced on this occasion
These new analytical methods on which RICE and 11 partners (VSL, IMBiH, NPL, PTB, RISE, VTT, INERIS, ISSI, NEN, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Waverton Analytics Limited) have been working should make it possible to fully characterise biomethanes for injection into the gas networks.
These standards will be published shortly.