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STORIES from RICE

Recovering energy from reverse flow

Optimizing energy production is a key part of the efforts in favor of the energy transition. This concern also applies to the energy consumption required for its transport and distribution. However, the reverse-flow station, a solution emblematic of research and innovation efforts to promote the emergence of new gases, is itself a major consumer of energy.

A challenge for RICE: to make the process as neutral as possible, by offsetting or, better, recovering the energy consumed.

The reverse-flow station features a compression function for raising the gas to high pressure so that it can be returned to the transmission network. During this phase, the compressor consumes energy.

On the other hand, especially in winter, when the biomethane produced is fully consumed, natural gas takes over. The molecules coming from the transmission network are then decompressed in the expansion station. During decompression, some energy is lost.

Our teams had the idea of attempting to balance this dual process by trying to recover the energy from gas expansion (in the high consumption phase), and converting it into electricity, in order to reuse it during the biomethane compression phase (in periods of low consumption).

Although it is possible to use existing solutions, i.e. a compressor and a pressure reducer equipped with a turbine to recover energy, we decided to work on a solution that would combine these two technologies in a single, now non-existent one.

This would allow the compressor to operate in both directions. This would be in the traditional electricity-consuming way in the biomethane recovery phase, but in reverse during high consumption periods, allowing the gas flow to produce electricity via a generator.

The project is still in the theoretical phase; the functioning and possible yields of such a solution are being evaluated. Once this phase has been validated, a prototype will be able to be manufactured and tested on the test benches of our Alfortville station.

A win-win streamlining solution.

The reverse-flow station: optimizing the injection of biomethane
The challenge of reverse-flow station development: to put an end to the one-way street and successfully bring gas molecules back from the distribution network to the transport network. A major challenge in the context of the energy transition and, in particular, the development of biomethane is to facilitate the injection of the produced gas. In...
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And then… the mobile reverse-flow station will be up and running.
For reasons of agility, adaptability or speed of operation, RICE is developing a mobile reverse-flow station solution. While this solution, which is comprehensive and compact, will allow the reverse-flow solution to be deployed even more widely and thus encourage the production of biomethane, its development is a real technological challenge.
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