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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 their test center at Alfortville, RICE teams are working to develop and improve this revolutionary solution.

The green gas of tomorrow is already available in large quantities. Waste treatment units, industrial or agricultural, are producing clean and directly usable biomethane as “city” or industrial gas. The process is now underway and the “Energy Transition to Green Growth Act” (LTECV) encourages this production with the aim of raising its share to 10% of natural gas consumption by 2030.

Problems: today, these units are, more often than not, connected to a distribution network in urban areas or in rural areas where local consumption is less than production; also, while consumption varies from season to season, production tends to be constant throughout the year.

It is difficult to slow down production and senseless to burn surpluses, so it is essential to successfully recover surpluses not consumed locally. Our experts have developed solutions and are continuing to perfect them.

Towards a two-way network

Historically, the network only works in one direction. A vertical, one-way operation, whereby the gas, once in the transmission network, is routed at high pressure to interconnections. There, it is “expanded”, i.e. its pressure is lowered to supply industrial facilities or pass through the distribution network as far as the end customer.

As a result, the impact of biomethane development is blunted, unless production sites are installed on the transport network as a priority. As distribution is much more extensive, the probability that an anaerobic digestion unit is close to one of the loops of this network is much higher, especially when full advantage is taken of the tremendous potential of raw materials in the form of household waste in urban areas.

With the reverse-flow station, the network becomes two-way; the surplus biomethane can enter the transport network and continue a conventional path to any consumption point.

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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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...
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