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Hera biomass from waste products

7.5 million cubic metres each year

Anaerobic digester, which produces biomethane used for public transport and compost for agriculture from urban organic waste collected by the local population.

From organic waste to biomethane, which can be supplied directly to residential properties in the form of gas once it has been introduced into the distribution networks. The project involves the production of methane gas from renewable sources, namely the anaerobic biodegradation of the organic element of the separated waste, to be carried out at the Sant'Agata Bolognese composting plant.

Hera has been producing biogas to produce electricity for years, through biodigestors and landfills. The step to be taken now is to refine the biogas turning it into biomethane like the gas, which is introduced into the pipes of residential buildings. This plant is the first realisation of this objective. The plant will use the organic element of the differentiated urban waste as raw material to obtain biomethane, which will also become fuel for local public transport vehicles, which run on methane.

The process begins with a continuous flow in a semi-dry anaerobic biodigestor where the organic waste is subjected to anaerobic digestion producing biogas and digestate. The digestate is sent to the next composting phase, which includes oxidation and final sieving to obtain high quality compost. The biogas is sent to an upgrading section where unwanted components are eliminated and methane gas is obtained. This methane gas meets the specifications required for introducing it into the network. This leads to a perfect circular economy whereby methane gas can be obtained from food waste, and can then be used to cook new food, to provide heating or to power vehicles.

The biodigestor will be able to treat 100 thousand metric tons per year of organic waste and 35 thousand metric tons of garden waster from separate waste collection and, starting from 2018, will be able to produce annually, approximately 7.5 million cubic meters of biomethane and 20,000 tons of compost.

In December 2018, after a first start-up phase, injection of the biomethane produced began on the SNAM network. The biomethane introduced into the network is destined for sale to power vehicles and in this way, Herambiente obtains the incentive through CIC (Certificates of Release for Consumption of renewable fuels). The total amount of this intervention required an investment of over Euro 37 million.

In 2019, the Hera Group signed an agreement with Tper (manager of the Bologna public transport service) and the taxi cooperative Co.Ta.Bo., thanks to which the biomethane produced in the Sant'Agata Bolognese plant will also be used as fuel for buses and taxis.

Area: province of Bologna