Corn is a dirty word when it comes to biofuel, and for good reason. We barely have enough food to go around, so it seems like a huge waste to use the stuff for electricity and heat.
But a new biogas plant built by the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and IKTS Systems remedies the corn conundrum by keeping corn cobs for food and using corn stalks for fuel. The plant, which is the first to work without edible raw materials, runs entirely on agricultural waste. In addition to rescuing edible crops from destruction, the plant can generate 30% more biogas than conventional facilities.
And that’s not all–Fraunhofer researchers have also managed to reduce the time required to decompose waste materials (silage) by 50 to 70%. In conventional biogas plants, biomass is fermented for 80 days. The Fraunhofer plant takes only 30 days to decompose silage.
Fraunhofer and IKTS have already built a 1.5 kilowatt pilot plant that can provide enough energy for a single family home. During the next phase of operation, the plant will be scaled up to 2 megawatts.