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Biogas Flow Meter Measurement: Accuracy Challenges


Aug 07, 2013

Last week I shared some insight into the growing biogas measurement market, specifically why this area of renewable energy seems to be heating up more and more. In short, it’s because of the versatility of the end product, which can be used for heating, electricity or to fuel internal combustion engines. But there are some challenges to harnessing biogas that you should be aware of before you enter into this tough, yet profitable, market.

What are the challenges to obtaining accurate biogas measurements?

When you consider that the composition of biogas can vary based on the source, you’ll begin to see why this flow measurement application can be challenging. Biogas typically contains about 55%-65% methane, 30%-35% carbon dioxide, and some hydrogen, nitrogen and other impurities. However, a representative compositional analysis (in volumetric percentage), shown in Table 1, shows the wide ranges in methane composition between 50%-75% and carbon dioxide between 25%-50%. This represents how the biogas composition can change over time with changing conditions in the landfill or in the digester tank.

TABLE 1 GOES HERE

The problem becomes not one of measurement, but the accuracy of that measurement. Most flow meters are calibrated to measure one specific gas mix composition, and sending the meter back to the factory to be recalibrated every time there’s a change isn’t very efficient. In co-generation situations, facilities managers need to be able to depend on the accurate measurement of the biogas produced—in spite of varying gas composition.

In the coming weeks, I’ll dive into other problems that arise with the precise measurement of biogas, and finally, I’ll share Sierra’s solution to obtaining more accurate flow meter measurement of biogas—without constant recalibration. In the meantime, download my white paper for an in-depth look at this profitable, yet challenging, market.

We want to know: What challenges has your facility faced in accurately measuring biogas energy?

Scott Rouse, Product Line Director
Written By:
Scott Rouse, Product Line Director
Sierra Instruments

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