Greenlane got started in 1986 in New Zealand. We got started because of the boom of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.
We were acquired in 2014 by a public company in the U.K. called Pressure Technologies Group (PTG).
Its main core business is mostly on cylinders, oil and gas equipment. We have three main offices—our headquarters are in Sheffield, U.K., our North American offices are in Vancouver, British Columbia, an office in Auckland, New Zealand and a satellite office in Pittsburgh. We have about 90 plants that we have built worldwide.
PTG has four different divisions, and we are part of the alternative energy division. The company dates all the way back to 1897.
We supply integrated full system solutions to upgrade biogas to renewable natural gas (RNG), and while we don’t have just one technology available, historically, we’ve been doing water wash.
We work with basically all the three main technologies to create biogas. We work with water wash, we work with pressure swing adsorption (PSA) and we work with membranes.
This really depends on what kind of project you have, what type of application and how big the application is. We’ll be able to tell you which would be the best application for the project that you have. We really like this approach and our clients love it, because we’re really working to find the best solution for your project.
UNDERSTANDING THE OPTIONS
We take the biogas from sources including manure residues, energy crops, organic industrial waste, household waste, forest industry waste and sewage sludge. We put it through one of our systems, and then from there, it will go either to a pipeline or vehicle field.
To give you an idea of the difference between biogas and RNG—biogas that comes out of the wastewater treatment plant’s digesters comes out as 60 percent methane, 40 percent carbon dioxide (CO2) and some other components. We remove the CO2 and remove all of the contaminants to make it more than 96 to 98 percent methane and be able to inject it into the pipeline. This gas will be comparable or identical to natural gas.
As previously mentioned, the line of our products include membranes, PSA and water wash, but we have recently created full solutions of processing equipment for our clients. For example, a customer comes to me and he or she has a municipal solid waste (MSW) digester. He or she has a wastewater treatment plant and he or she says, “I’m going to give you a plant with the biogas. Can you take it to the pipeline and worry about everything in between?” The answer is yes.
So in one project that we worked on, we did everything from the biogas blowers to the water scrubber. We put a PSA there as well, we put in the biomethane compressors, the oxidizers, flares—every single piece of processing equipment that you have to use in between, we have.
First you have to biogas coming out of your system, from there it goes into a compressor—the gas gets compressed to around 120 pounds. After that, it goes through a scrubber tower, which takes the biogas from the bottom of the tank and sprays it with water that’s chilled at about 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
What is happening, if you want to simplify it, is like creating soda. The carbon dioxide would get added to the water, all the contaminants would get dissolved in the water. The methane, in particular, has a special ability in the water compared to the others. The methane will escape from the top and what will remain is water filled with all these contaminants. Once the methane escapes, it goes into a gas drier, and then from there it’s ready to go into the pipeline.
So what happens to the water with all the contaminants? They go into what is called the flash tank. The flash tank is opened and the pressure is dropped to about 3 bar and whatever methane that, for some reason, got trapped in there is able to be released. What is able to be released is put back into the compressor and that’s how 98 percent of the methane that you put in is recovered.
From there, it goes to a stripper that uses air to remove all the contaminants, then it goes into a tail gas and then, depending on airborne treatments, its put in a bioculture.
Benefits of the water wash, in particular, is that it is water. There are no chemicals and there is very high availability—there is always 95 percent guarantee availability. The sales gas is always available and is not susceptible to hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and its able to meet California Rule 30 specifications.
The California Rule 30 process is something that we came up with last year and have the first one going out in the fall. We developed a product that polishes the gas once its comes out and is able to meet regulations for all the gas put in that California pipeline. We basically make the gas ready to go into the pipeline.
I’m going to use the North American plant in Hamilton, Ontario, to demonstrate how I worked with wastewater treatment plants.
This plant produces 500 standard cubic feet per minute (scfm) and what it does is basically have two sources. They produce RNG. If you compare it to million British thermal unit (mmBtu) values in terms of the gas, you can get values of up to $15 to $30 in mmBtu.
If you compare it with how much natural gas costs today, $2 to $3, you’re getting up to ten times that value. That’s what happens in some of these wastewater treatment plants. Some of them are also doing biobased fertilizers.
We’re also seeing some of them taking the wastewater and growing algae and other byproducts, so that’s also been a source of revenue there.
Our farm project in Delta, British Columbia, produces about 150 scfm. This project has a long-term agreement with a Canada-based utility company. The utility company is paying roughly $13 to $14 in mmBtu. The source of revenue is from the RNG production and biobased fertilizer. There is also nutrient separation, and the owner is using some of that gas on the pipeline and inside the farm for heating and other production. He’s also getting tax incentives.
Finally, a municipal solid waste (MSW) facility that we have in Perris, California for CR&R. We’re doing the Rule 30 injection with it. It’s about 1,200 scfm. It’s going to be a model for many other facilities. Its money is coming from RNG production.
This project in particular does not have the CO2 recovery, but there’s another facility in Canada that can take the CO2, getting it from my system, purifying it and using it back in the process. This California project has two main sources of revenue—one is pipeline injection and the other is to save on production. They’re fueling all their trucks with a renewable natural gas.
So why use us? With RIN prices from $15-30 mmBtu, and in Canada $12 to 13 per gigajoule, it really is the highest value that you can use your gas for. If you have the scale and the project to do it, it’s not only solving a waste problem but is providing an excellent source of revenue for all parties involved.