The 10 questions we are most frequently asked:
- Why build biogas reactors with textiles?
- But isn’t it true that other reactor types cost less?
- Why invest in biogas production at all?
- “Superior, local support”?
- How does the demonstration installation work?
- One-day installation, really?
- Who are your typical customers?
- “Worldwide R&D efforts”?
- Does the material produce better biogas?
- Why did you get into biogas?
1. Biogas reactors have traditionally been built in concrete (e.g. the fixed-dome design), plastics (e.g. the lagoon design) or stainless steel – why do it with textiles?
Short answer: Because of the outstanding durability, long lifetimes and remarkable cost effectiveness we achieve by doing so.
Long answer: Simply because these textiles – these advanced fabrics – are developed especially for the purpose of cost-effective, reliable biogas production. The material is designed to be highly resistant to all stress factors that commonly affect biogas reactors, while at the same time remaining highly competitive in price. Thorough quality testing of the finished reactors, age testing performed with state-of-the-art artificial weathering equipment, and experiences from the field all testify to the outstanding durability of our reactors. Even the challenges posed by for example earthquakes and rodents (!) won’t be able to break our reactors.
The material also makes our biogas systems easier to install – and scale up – than all other reactor types; gives them dramatically longer lifetimes than lagoons; enables simpler maintenance than with concrete and lagoon reactors; and makes the size of the investment much more universally accessible than with stainless steel. In short, our high-tech textiles and sophisticated polymers broaden the scope for cost-effective biogas production everywhere, and the easiness of distribution of the lightweight and foldable reactors is just a small reason for this.
2. But isn’t it true that for example concrete-based reactors, such as the fixed-dome design, cost less?
Short answer: Yes, but no. Not if you look at lifetimes – which you should. Also, lower risk.
Long answer: The initial price may be somewhat lower, yes, but the experience around the world is that these traditional types of reactors simply will not last very long, even in spite of the theoretically long lifetimes of for example concrete. In other words, the somewhat smaller investment of the fixed-dome reactor and other types often comes at the expense of low cost effectiveness and return on investment. In contrast, our reactors will produce biogas reliably for longer than a decade, bringing swift payback and a very high cost effectiveness over its lifetime. Additionally, the easy handling of our reactors to a large extent allow you to avoid the quite unforeseeable costs that often arise during the installation of traditional reactors. And if other unexpected external events further on (such as decreasing volumes of organic waste) cause problems for your biogas venture, the reactor can easily be emptied and resold. This also holds true for our unique offer to do a demonstration installation. Thus, your risk is greatly reduced. Very important as well is the support aspect: our incomparably well-connected and well-read experts are included in your investment, which prevents another type of hidden costs. Most of all, however, their knowledge and input during planning is invaluable.
3. Why invest in biogas production at all? Isn’t it an old technology that for good reasons hasn’t had a real breakthrough? What is different now? Is the potential for biogas really as big as you say?
Short answer: Invest because you will profit from it. Biogas production has been around for long, but it has had a long childhood. Things are different today, not least the environmental challenges humanity faces. The biogas potential has never been bigger – thankfully, then, we help the industry grow up, quickly.
Long answer: All technologies take time to spread, especially if they are not yet mature. What we saw, which was the reason for us entering this industry, is that the awareness of biogas as a viable option, as well as the surrounding technology for separating and preparing organic waste, has reached critical mass in recent years. The only thing missing was a reactor technology that minimizes hassle, is truly cost effective, presents a universally accessible investment, and meets all the criteria for being quickly disseminated (both in terms of accumulating and spreading knowledge and in the actual physical sense). So we set out to create that technology. As for the potential and promise of biogas in general – yes, it is huge, and biogas production is rightfully taking off all over the world. In addition to the increasingly good business cases and possibilities, the crucial need for reducing environmental and carbon footprints makes biogas production not only even more viable but also necessary and in many cases almost immoral not to pursue.
Short answer: Our networks and people are very local. Recurring, investment-included and in many cases academia-hailing experts are the reasons behind our unequalled support.
Long answer: Not only is our support personnel situated in close proximity to our customers, they are also integral parts of the local networks crucial for ensuring reliable biogas production. When we expand our operations, we especially search for adequate local research institutions, research facilities and research expertize to cooperate with. This approach – and the fact that our ongoing support is included in your investment – is something we feel that is necessary, because we never do anything half-heartedly. We could just sell our reactors and be satisfied, never seeing the customer again. But our ambition is to revolutionize the biogas industry. Low ambitions in terms of support simply will not suffice; the cutting-edge quality of our reactors deserves equally good support, in everything from planning and installation to optimization, maintenance and scale up. In effect, therefore, we are not just supplying reactors – we are providing the service of reliable biogas production.
Short answer: It’s a 3–6 month industry-unique 100 m3 learning period that we use to fine-tune your full-scale implementation.
Long answer: The demo is a first step on your way to full-scale implementation. It is made possible by the unique scalability of our reactors. After substrate analysis and business case planning, we install a 100 m3 reactor and let it run for 3–6 months. During this time and during installation, more is learned about your unique biogas production potential. Your personnel are given a valuable chance to learn about installation, filling, emptying, gas collection and maintenance. A thorough evaluation follows and is used to optimize your production by identifying quick fixes and/or future improvements. These can range from having to do with the substrate itself to being about reactor-external factors of all kinds. After this we quickly embark upon your particular road to full-scale, reliable biogas production.
Thanks to the demonstration procedure, your risk is greatly reduced in a way that is very difficult to accomplish with traditional reactor designs. It also ensures that every single dollar is utilized efficiently. If for some reason the results are not satisfactory, the reactor can easily be removed. It may actually be removed anyways, since the space it takes up might be better used for a larger reactor. Depending on the size of your potential full-scale installation, the demonstration may come free of charge.
Short answer: Yes, it often is that quick.
Long answer: If the installation is planned well and not very large, one day is enough. Moreover, depending on several factors, fFilling will perhaps not be possible to complete the same day as the groundwork and piping. The preparation of the ground itself may also take a bit longer, but with small and medium reactors one day is plenty to perform the quick and easy installation of our reactors. Unfolding and connecting a reactor is easily done in one day.
Short answer: Since our reactors are very versatile, we have no typical customers. But larger food-processing factories come pretty close.
Long answer: Hard to say. The unique customization possibilities of our prefabricated reactors – coming in sizes of 2–1000 m3 and combinable in many ways – means that almost anyone who produces a fair amount of organic waste can profit from investing in our brand of biogas production. As always, though, the real momentum builders in any revolution are those with the large numbers on their side: the frontrunners in what we consider to be a slow but steady biogas revolution has so far been larger food-processing factories.
Short answer: It means that we have unusually strong research ties – ties that benefit us and the customer immensely.
Long answer: Together with universities, other research institutes and different industry associations across the world we are shaping the future of biogas. Without our global academic connections we could never have perfected our reactors as much as we have – or offer the kind of close expert support we do. So it simply means that we conduct biogas research with many partners in multiple countries and on most continents, both in labs and on our actual commercial installations. Our home may be in Sweden and Borås University, but the average geographic location of our research activities is in South and Southeast Asia. Our research efforts entail both incremental innovations, that will benefit current customers, and exciting prospects for new kinds of reactor designs.
9. Does the material affect the anaerobic digestion? Is the biogas produced better than with other reactors?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: No, but… The material’s molecules or molecular structure does not directly impact the fermentation process. However, the material indirectly contributes to keep the conditions in the reactor favorable and stable. Ultimately, this does shorten the retention time to a small extent. But it is much more the case that the material has been designed not to be affected by the anaerobic digestion, than designed to affect it. The material is tailored to be very resistant to the high temperatures, fluctuating pH values and aggressive byproducts that are unavoidable when producing biogas. Thus, the material mainly lends our reactors long lifetimes coupled with a very reliable production, which of course translates into high cost effectiveness.
Short answer: We felt that we had the opportunity to make a large and crucial impact, and this very much thanks to our background rather than in spite of it.
Long answer: “More traditional“ is not entirely true. The company we stem from, FOV Fabrics, has always been in the forefront of advanced fabrics, producing everything from function leisure clothes to high-performance textiles such as parachutes and military seating for the aviation industry. FOV Fabrics was also the original inventor of the airbag material. The cross-breed between sudden inspiration while listening to a biogas talk and the increasing frustration with the slow development of the renewable energy sector led us to begin to look into making a contribution. And we quickly began to like what we saw. So here we are.
Do you have any other questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. Or why not contact us anyways?