BioGTS is delivering Central Finland’s largest biogas plant to Jyväskylä to the local waste processing company Mustankorkea Corp. In this series of articles, we’ll tell you about the progress of the project all the way from design to construction and the inauguration of the completed biogas plant, which will take place in the spring of 2017. You can send comments and feedback about the series of articles to the writer at: maria.pecoraro(at)biogts.com.
The biogas distribution network in Jyväskylä region broadens
Esko Martikainen, CEO of the waste management company Mustankorkea, has been driving around on a biogas-operated car for already half a year. Until 1-2 new public biogas refueling stations will be open in Mustankorkea and city of Jyväskylä, one has to go to Leppävesi Kalmari place in order to tank the car. The satisfied biogas car owner firmly believes in the widespread use of emission-free and clean biogas. By biogas-operated car you can drive around in the same way as by normal car, and refueling is not different from that of petrol-run car.
– Refueling pistol snaps tightly into the car’s filling valve, and tanking process takes as much time as petrol-tank refueling. The refueling time can be used for taking a walk or otherwise for your own pleasure, because everything happens automatically, says Martikainen.
The CEO predicts that biogas-operated car-base in the subregion will increase by around 50-100 passenger cars a year. The growth will also include professional vans and lorries. There is certainly use for exhaustless, odorless and safe energy, confirms Martikainen.
Professional transport becomes biogas carrier
Three garbage trucks of Sihvari, the waste management company operating in Jyväskylä area, have been managing their important tasks while running on biogas. At the moment, the refueling station next to Mustankorkea biogas plant is still operated by biogas supplied by Gasum for garbage trucks to use. However, from the next autumn onwards biogas fuel will be generated from biowaste that is produced by households in the Jyväskylä region. According to Martikainen, two months of experience concerning biogas-run garbage trucks have been quite encouraging, hence, they would be required also in the future for new territories’ contract tendering. The transfer of professional transport to biogas fuel also encourages private car owners to switch to biogas.
In summer 2017, Gasum opens a compressed bio- and natural gas (CNG) refueling station to Vaajakoski Kanavuori. The CEO Esko Martikainen welcomes the rise of competition and increase in the amount of refueling stations, and he envisions positive opportunities in this.
– The denser and more accessible distribution network we can build, the more courageously people will dare to become biogas car users. At full power, Mustankorkea will produce biogas for approximately 1,000-1,500 drivers. Since in the city there are around 65,000 registered private cars, the number of customers is surely sufficient for everyone in the future, assures Martikainen.
Biogas excitement predicts success
The CEO of Mustankorkea tells about the real enthusiasm towards biogas in the subregion. Inquiries concerning biogas availability are presented to him almost daily. The city of Jyväskylä, the biggest owner of the waste company, has expressed the intent to promote the growth of biogas vehicles. In the future, the vehicles purchased for the city of Jyväskylä will be primarily biogas-operated.
The coverage of the biogas distribution network plays the key role in the creation of biogas ecosystem. BioGTS’s product portfolio includes a biogas upgrading unit which, if desired by customer, can be integrated with a biogas refueling station.
MUSTANKORKEA BIOGAS PLANT IN THE FINISHING STAGE
Posted on March 30 2017
The devices and machines of the Mustankorkea biogas plant are still standing silent in the sparkling new hall. It’s still strangely quiet in the large hall. The final push of the electrical installers is at hand, because everything has to be ready before the testing stage, which is already due to start in the first week of April. In that, the stages of the process will be gone through carefully to ensure operational reliability. After the dry run, the real action will begin when the first garbage trucks bring their load of biowaste to be carried through on the pre-treatment line.
“Before this, the electrical installers still have a lot of work to do,” says the electrical installer Niko Oikari from Loistoset Inc., who strides briskly to the other end of the hall. Fortunately, a moment for a chat can be found even in the midst of the hurry. Oikari says that the greatest challenge of the work stage is the difficult places where the electricians have to get into from time to time to carry out their installations. At other times, they have to go up on the front of the crane to the ceiling of the hall, tens of meters up. The conversation is interrupted by the crane’s beeping warning sound, which tells that a work colleague is once again going up to the ceiling of the hall, holding electrical cables. Six electrical installers are working in different parts of the hall at the moment, taking the work stage to completion.
The new-generation biogas plant will indeed need electricity, when all the functions are fully automated. The task that remains for the maintenance personnel is to monitor from the control room, behind a glass wall, that everything is working as it should. Soon the silence of the plant will end for good when the machines are switched on to convert biowaste into renewable energy.
Visions of the future from an experienced veteran
Posted on March 9 2017
Since January 2015, Kauko Isomöttönen (M.Sc. Technology) has worked as a project manager and is now the first employee in the history of BioGTS Ltd. to retire to spend his well-deserved retirement days. The Master of Science, who worked with the Mustankorkea biogas plant project since the tender negotiations, has very extensive experience of the Finnish waste processing field – and a little of that in neighboring countries too – as well as demanding industrial projects. According to Kauko, retiring could have come even a year earlier, but the role of the project manager of BioGTS Mustankorkea pulled him once more into a fast project for a year. In Kauko’s words, he’s leaving the tasks that carry responsibility with a relieved but good state of mind to the diverse experts of BioGTS, who have taken hold of the reins very well and begun to guide the project towards its goal, i.e. handing over a completed biogas plant to the customer during the summer of 2017.
According to the veteran, who has led many construction projects associated with waste processing, the Mustankorkea project differed from earlier projects in that BioGTS made more of the parts that related to the contract than the former employers of Isomöttönen by itself as its own work in the Sepelitie workshop in Jyväskylä. Indeed, one of the key challenges of the work of the project manager related to this: to get the different stages of the delivery project to flow seamlessly together so that the whole orchestra plays the same tune at the same tempo. The good operating practices and successes of the Virolahti construction project in Hamina, which was completed earlier on, were repeated in the Mustankorkea project. The Mustankorkea project was also added to by the development work that was carried out as the work progressed, when new kinds of solutions that met the needs of the customer were sought for the biowaste pre-treatment lines. When solutions for the biowaste pre-treatment lines of the Mustankorkea biogas plant were being weighed up, a trip was made to central Europe to learn from an equipment supplier.
The stages of biowaste processing and visions of the future
The project manager, who is retiring from BioGTS, has more than 20 years’ experience in the waste-processing field. During his career, he has been involved in the construction of 12 composting plants around Finland, all the way from Rovaniemi to Hanko in southern Finland, working for Vapo Biotech. Isomöttönen was even involved in the construction of a composting plant in Gävle in our neighboring country Sweden, in the 2000s.
According to Kauko, in the 1990s the construction of biogas plants had not broken through yet, but instead composting plants were constructed for biowaste, in which a composting process was used to produce compost and soil improver from the biomass. At the time, only a few biogas plants operated in Finland, mainly in conjunction with waste water processing plants. According to Kauko, there wasn’t yet a market for biogas in the 1990s, nor economically sensible usage sites, which often made them financially unprofitable. Now that biogas motoring has become more common and demand has increased, the financial profitability of biogas plants has reached such a level that investments are worthwhile and pay back for themselves within a reasonable length of time.
Little by little – for example, through the biogas plants built in Lahti and Helsinki – and a few investigations that weighed up financial profitability, the conclusion was reached that a biogas plant is both a financially and ecologically sensible alternative for the processing of biowaste.
In addition, in the first half of the 2000s, waste incineration plants became more widespread, in which most mixed waste was burned and from which heat was collected at the same time. These days, only less than 10% of waste ends up adding to the piles at the landfill site. Recycling of many raw materials, such as glass and metal, has already reached a good level, although the collection journeys set challenges from the point of view of the transportations costs in a country the size of Finland. According to Isomöttönen, the recycling of different kinds of waste materials is sure to increase. In his view, development will be seen in many aspects in biogas production too: new biomass materials will be made suitable for biogassing and new technical methods will surely be found for the biogassing of the materials that are the most difficult to biodegrade. Isomöttönen also believes that even the biogas process itself will be made more efficient than now through technological development. In his opinion, in the future we’ll also see the usage sites for the processing residue coming from the biogas process becoming more extensive when refining the mass is developed to make it suitable for different kinds of usage sites.
The biogas market will also grow in the future as the number of gas cars increases and the use of biogas also becomes more widespread in heavy-duty traffic. The drivers behind the increase in biogas production are global ecological reasons, hand in hand with financial profitability. The veteran who is retiring from BioGTS sees the future as bright; in the near future, interesting large projects await the company, which are being done by a diverse group of professionals who have accrued many different kinds of work experience.
From the docks to building biogas plants
Posted on February 20 2017
At the end of last year, engineer Arvo Viertola joined the team responsible of the Mustankorkea biogas plant project. He replaced the retiring project manager, Master of Science Kauko Iso-Möttönen. For Viertola, who has worked with the previous project at the Turku docks, the road to BioGTS was a result of many fortunate coincidences. For the engineer, who has previous experience with renewable energy production, working as a project manager for a company that delivers biogas plants is a pleasant challenge. According to Viertola, who has seen and experienced many projects, it was easy to join the Mustankorkea project, when all parties – delivers, purchasers, as well as co-operators – have a mutual goal in mind and work hard for it. Everyone really works together in the Mustankorkea project, Viertola assures.
The Mustankorkea biogas plant rose already to its final height a couple of weeks ago, when a topping out event was held at the construction site on Friday, January 13th. Currently at the construction site, a gas supply is being erected, and a nearby traffic gas station is being built. Meanwhile inside the biogas plant, installation of process tubes is being finalized.
During near weeks, heat will be turned on for the fresh new building complex. After that, thorough automation and machine testings will be started. On the project manager’s working table, there is an almost finalized checklist for the initialization of the biogas plant. Testing will proceed form visual checking to more thorough assurance of mechanical functionality and a test run. The automation of the biogas plant will also be given thorough cold testing before the first biowaste load is received for the biogas plant. Viertola calculates that after the testing stage in February, the new biogas plant can be “driven up”, or installed in stages, in March. The plan for the plant’s installation is currently being made together with the customer.
In the planning of the biogas plant, special attention has been directed to smell management. Biowaste management happens in a completely closed space. Logistics has been planned this way: When the garbage trucks in the load arrive to the biogas plant, they back to a sort of middle space as the rolling doors rise, and after that, the rolling door closes automatically. The effective air conditioning of the middle space and the ozonization of the exhaust make sure that the air leaving the plant does not smell. After the middle door opens, garbage trucks get to the actual delivery station from the middle space. After that, bio mass moves through the preparation process to biogas reactors through process tubes.
At the construction site of the biogas plant, they're beavering away high up
Posted on November 23 2016
A lot has happened at the construction site of the Mustankorkea biogas plant since the foundation stone brickwork in September. At the time, there was still a huge gaping trench with its marker poles next to the plinth. Now, there’s the largest building of the whole biogas plant standing proudly in the same place, almost at its full height. The concrete framework, with its pillar beamwork, now has concrete elements around it. The crane truck is reaching up high because it’s time to install the third row of windows. In the basket of the second crane, the builders are attaching stone wool/sheet metal elements on the other side of the building. There are currently 20 people working at the construction site, of whom some are builders and others are metal workers and excavators working the controls of the digger.
The roof of the biogas plane is also beginning to be able to withstand wind, snow flurries and the weather. The TT slab, which is typical for industrial buildings, forms the structure that supports the roof. The steam lock felting installed in the roof keeps the rain of the fall out of the building. Inside, the attention is drawn to the tanks installed in the interior of the building, which will become the slurry and bio tanks of the biogas plant. Together, these make up a storage unit with a capacity of around 150 cubic meters, where pre-treated biomass will be collected when the biogas plant is started up, for transferal into the biogas process. At the moment, equipment installations for the tanks are being carried out.
The largest part of the coming building will consist of the reception hall that the trucks carrying the biomass drive straight inside and tip their loads onto the pre-treatment line. The walls and floor of the reception area were already cast a few weeks ago, and next the preparation for the casting of the floor of the reception hall will get under way. Weather conditions, rain and the cold present particular challenges in this stage of the work.
According to the Site Manager of the Mustankorkea Inc. biogas plant project of BioGTS, Olli-Pekka Furuholm, the construction site is proceeding on schedule. Small changes in the plans have caused delays in some stages of the work, whereas elsewhere work has progressed faster than planned. The fire at the composting plant of Mustankorkea did not cause any hindrance at the construction site of the biogas plant.
Biogas reactors have travelled to Mustankorkea
Posted on September 19 2016
In the safety of the BioGTS factory hall, there are two huge reactor vessels who are being handled by professionals at different work stages. On the other side of the hall, bright sparks fly towards the ceiling from the welder’s workstation. The factory hall is filled by the deafening sound of working. In the hands of professionals, the vessels turn into hi-tech products that can be used to produce energy from biowaste. Indeed, last summer has been a work-filled period for the BioGTS factory in Seppälänkangas, because the 4 reactors of the future biogas plant are now ready and sent in eight pieces to the waste management facility of Mustankorkea.
Heikki Turpeinen, production manager of BioGTS, confirms that last summer has been very busy for the factory. Right now, a gas processing plant that is a part of the biogas plant is waiting to be realized. Turpeinen is currently making procurements related to the gas processing plant. The factory will also produce a boiler plant and a gas station for biogas car drivers.
The technology of the BioGTS biogas plant is based on anaerobic dry process that does not need extra water to work, unlike traditional solutions based on wet process. Energy is already saved in the biogas process itself when there is less material / mass to warm. The new kind of technology also sets demands on the equipment that is used in building the biogas plant, says Heikki Turpeinen. Equipment orders are made based on technical functionality and suitability, keeping an eye on reference targets. When making hi-tech and cleantech products and services, the action centres around continuous development activities that aim towards a quality product. Biogas plants provided earlier, such as the biogas plant in Virolahti, Hamina, and its operation and maintenance activity have produced valuable experience and information for production and development.
Earthworks at Mustankorkea
Posted on July 6 2016
When I visited the construction site of Mustankorkea waste processing plant it was drizzling and the sky was dark grey, but the workers and large machines were hard at work with the earth and foundation. An excavator had rummaged the area where the plant would come to be and trucks had brought 22 000 tons of rough gravel under the foundation. Under the biogas plant will be built a drainage system that directs runoff water (rainwater and snowmelt) to the sewerage system of the city.
Affiairs related to permits and supervision have also started going forward after granting of the construction permit. An exceptional planning permission was applied for and a meeting about the starting of construction supervision was held. Plans for the biogas plant have been thoroughly gone through with officials in order to ensure the smooth continuation and good result of the project.
Guided by Piia Aho, the communcations manager of the waste management company, in the meeting room of Mustankorkea, I saw a model of the future biogas plant that visualizes well how the building complex is going to be like. The largest building is the inlet building, where waste trucks will drive in and dump their biodegradeable load intended for the biogas production on a pretreatment line that also operates within the same building. The four long wings on the side of the inlet building are biogas reactors, where microbes degrade biogenic material in an oxygen free environment mainly into methane and carbon dioxide. Fermentation residue rich with nutrients, that gets produced by the biogas production process is directed through a tube into an adjacent composting plant to enrich soil produced there. Hygienisation means the extermination of pathogens within the fermentation residue by either heating or using a biological or chemical treatment. Biogas production furthers the realization of the principles of circulation economics and resource wisdom by creating energy from organic waste in a way which creates as its byproduct nutrient-rich fermentation residue that can be used as a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. Biogas production also advances the realization of the principle of nutrient cycle.
Construction permit granted
Posted on June 20 2016
A construction permit has been granted for the Mustankorkea biogas plant on 6/5/2016. This means that the construction work can actually be started. The excavator has already struck its bucket into the earth of Mustankorkea and the earthworks are already well under way with gravel trucks bringing in earth for the foundations of the plant to come. The construction of the biogas plant is actually proceeding simultaneously on two fronts: at the Mustankorkea waste processing plant and at BioGTS’s own factory at Seppälänkangas, where the biogas reactors are being fitted out at a furious pace.
In their entirety, the plans are complete, except for small details. The pillar beam and steel structures of the feed building have already been ordered and the core heating, water and air-conditioning plans are close to completion, except for their actual execution. Experience in constructing a comparable plant has already been accrued from the Virolahti biogas plant delivered to Haminan Energia, which is already operating at full power.
Olli-Pekka Furuholm is acting as the foreman of the construction of the Mustankorkea biogas plant, with decades of experience of many kinds of construction projects done for the needs of industry. He has been involved in the planning of the Mustankorkea biogas plant from the beginning as a member of the working group, which in addition to the foreman includes structural, electrical automation and HWA designers, the architect, project manager and the managing director. As the person responsible for construction, he participates in meetings held with the customer and contractor discussions in which operations in practice at the construction site are coordinated. According to Furuholm, his task as foreman is to ensure and monitor that people are in the right place at the right time and that what has been planned on paper is realized at the construction site.
The Mustankorkea biogas plant is being built in close cooperation with partners and subcontractors, which requires the foreman to be able to organize and arrange the schedules so that the jobs of different operators fit together smoothly. In addition, it’s Furuholm’s responsibility to make procurements, take care of work safety and deal with the documentation related to the construction.
It’s clear that no project gets under way without a site foreman who holds many threads in his hands. Furuholm assures that the site foreman is involved in the construction of the plant “from the planning phase to striking the shovel into the ground, and all the way through to the last handle button and handover”.
The biogas plant project of Mustankorkea is moving ahead at a rapid pace
Posted on May 24 2016
There’s been a rush on recently at BioGTS, because the biogas plant project of Mustankorkea is proceeding at a rapid pace. The ground of the area of the biogas plant has been studied and the construction planning of the feed building has already advanced a long way. This time, BioGTS’s Project Manager, Kauko Isomöttönen (M.Eng.) tells us about the progress of the project.
The feed building, which is 1,800 m2 in area, will be core from the point of view of the functioning of the plant because that’s where the sludge from waste water processing plants and biowaste going into the biogas process are driven to and pre-processed for biogassing. Construction-technical plans, with their frameworks and pillars, electricity and heat distribution solutions and the air-conditioning are already largely ready to be realized. Particularly in the planning of the air-conditioning, it has been sought to prevent the spreading of various kinds of odors as effectively as possible. The selection of the biowaste pre-processing equipment is still under consideration by a multi-disciplinary planning working group. The task of pre-processing is to crush the biomass into a suitable shape for the process and sieve out the impurities from it.
The other parts of the biogas plant are made ready at BioGTS’s own factory at Seppälänkangas and taken to the site as modules ready to be installed. This makes the rapid construction and installation phase of the biogas plant possible, as well as its trouble-free expansion. The manufacturing of the body structures of the biogas reactors is currently under way. The biogas plant will have a total of four reactors to make biogas from biowaste for the needs of transport and heat production in the Jyväskylä area.
The first steps in the design of a biogas plant
Posted on April 29 2016
The design of the biogas plant to be delivered to Mustankorkea began in the second half of 2015 when BioGTS took part in a tender process arranged for the site. After the competitive tendering was resolved in the favor of BioGTS, the preparation of the coming biogas plant has progressed in leaps and bounds.
Right from the first steps of the design, the construction architect Katri Valkonen has had a central role in creating various kinds of drawings and the visualization of the site. She says that the designing is not done alone, but instead in close cooperation with the various parties of the project; the client, technical designers and the people doing the work in practice. Indeed, the architect describes the design of a biogas plant as being like a jigsaw where the pieces find their own place through working closely together with the other specialists.
The cornerstone in the design of a biogas plant is the needs and wishes of the client, which are taken into account as exactly as possible. The role of the architect is in fact to accommodate different kinds of wishes and demands in the designs, even though occasionally compromises have to be made, for example due to preconditions dictated by transport connections or the environment. According to Valkonen, the designs are still live as the work progresses, when the architect must be prepared to change their designs.
The space requirements of a biogas plant are determined by processing and production requirements – how much biomass the plant is expected to receive and how much biogas it is expected to produce. The heart of the biogas plant, the biogas reactors, is built from beginning to end in BioGTS’s own factory. The whole, which is modular and can also be expanded, guarantees the sufficiency of the production capacity of the biogas plant, also for the growing demands of the future. The four reactors of the biogas plant being built for Mustankorkea Corp can receive 19,000 tons of biowaste and spin-dried wastewater sludge per year.
In addition to the reactors, a biogas plant also needs other areas to be to operate. The whole will incorporate a pre-processing hall, where the biowaste is brought with garbage trucks and where it is pre-processed for the biogas production process, and heat and electricity production unit, a gas refining facility, a separate technical area and two gas tanks. In addition to this, the plan includes a fueling station, for which a suitable location is still under consideration. According to Valkonen, an important part in the designing is to take into account the movements of the coming biowaste, the produced biogas and the residues created in the process. Ensuring logistics and functionality is the most core objective of the design process.
According to the architect, the most important task in the architecture of a biogas plant is to serve the use and operability. At the same time, industrial architecture design and construction that are high-quality and fit in with their environment are also sought. The coming biogas plant will be made to fit in with the other building stock of Mustankorkea. In this, the work of the architect is helped by the possibilities offered by 3D modeling, with which it’s easier to visualize the whole, work on different placement options and solutions and change the details when necessary.
The construction of the biogas plant is proceeding at a rapid pace. Follow on our pages how the project is progressing and what kinds of stages are involved in its construction. The bodies of the biogas reactors are already being welded; in the next article we’ll take a peek inside the factory to see how the construction is going.