Biogas upgrading unit

Biogas upgrading unit refines raw biogas to biomethane that can be injected into the natural gas grid or used as transport fuel.

Upgrading unit refines biogas into pure biomethane

In addition to methane, raw biogas typically contains about 35-40 % carbon dioxide, as well as small amounts of water, nitrogen, oxygen and impurities. For biogas to be used, for example, in a car engine, most of these gases must be removed before being pressurized and used as transport fuel. It means that the gas treatment is needed.

Biogas upgrading unit is a solution to produce high-quality biomethane out of raw biogas. Upgraded biomethane is similar to natural gas and it can be used as vehicle fuel and injected into the natural gas grid.

With the robust and market-leading PSA and membrane upgrading technologies represented by Biovoima, even the highest gas quality requirements are met without any chemical or water utilization.


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Upgrading unit refines biogas into pure biomethane

© Carbotech Gas Systems GmbH

PSA technology converts biogas into vehicle fuel and biomethane that is injected into the grid

PSA technology is a frequently used way to upgrade biogas into biomethane (PSA = Pressure Swing Adsorption). It is based on Pressure Swing Adsorption principle, where a carbon dioxide selective molecular sieve captures the raw gas CO2 in certain pressures and releases it in another. Moisture and impurities of the raw gas (such as hydrogen sulfides or siloxanes) are removed in the gas pre-treatment phase before the upgrading process, i.e. gas treatment process.

With a bit different variation, PSA technology is suitable for refining biogas, landfill gas or pyrolysis gas. Feasible PSA upgrading unit sizes start from 350 Nm3/h capacities, and they can be scaled upwards nearly limitlessly.

Gas purification: PSA technology flowchart. © Suomen Biovoima
Gas purification: PSA technology flowchart.

Flexible operating capacities with membrane upgrading technology

Membrane biogas upgrading technology is based on gas flow through hundreds of spaghetti-like thin fiber tubes with selective wall material. The separation of carbon dioxide occurs because its diffusivity through the fiber wall material is different compared to methane. As carbon dioxide “escapes” through the walls, methane travels to the other end of the tubes and is collected without CO2. This cycle is then repeated typically in two or three process steps to gain high enough product gas quality.

Advantages of membrane-based upgrading technology are for example the following:

  • Suitable for even small project, starting from 50 Nm3/h of input biogas
  • High product gas quality, very low methane slip
  • Robust and widely used technology
  • Lower investment cost
  • No need for chemicals of water
  • Easy, automated and remote-controlled operation

Partner: leading PSA manufacturer Carbotech

The PSA units that Biovoima represents are developed and manufactured by Carbotech GmbH. Carbotech is one of the most advanced PSA developers in the world, and they have more than 800 established gas treatment plants, of which more than 100 pcs are installed in connection with biogas plants.

The advantages of Carbotech PSA technology are:

  • Low energy consumption, 0.16-0.24 kWh/Nm3 (depending on the installed capacity)
  • High-quality gas as an end product
  • Small (less than 1%) methane slip
  • Reliability: developed and robust technology
  • No need for water or chemical utilization
  • Compact plant size; modular, containerized solution
  • Easy, continuous operation
  • Automated and remotely controlled process


Carbotech Gas Systems GmbH




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European Biomethane Map

The following map locates all known biomethane installations and names the surrounding gas grid in Europe as of 2020. Open the map in a full screen and download »

European Biomethane Map 2020. © GIE - EBA
European Biomethane Map 2020 by GIE and EBA.