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O-17. New materials for upgrading biogas to renewable natural gas

Presenter: Neal E. Megonnell, ATMI, Danbury, CT
Coauthors: Shaun M. Wilson, Melissa A. Petruska, J. D. Carruthers, and Edward A. Sturm, ATMI, Danbury, CT; Aaron Primmer, MV LLC, Golden, CO

Typical commercial brewing processes consume vast amounts of water for the production of beer and spirits. As regulations around disposal and treatment of wastewater become more stringent and energy costs continue to rise, there is a need for small and large breweries alike to examine the entire lifecycle of the raw materials used in their manufacturing processes. One area that has the potential to both reduce strain on municipal water treatment plants and provide an additional revenue stream for breweries is the anaerobic digestion of process wastewater and surplus yeast to produce biogas. The composition of this biogas is primarily methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), with other components present depending upon the specific source. In order to utilize biogas as a replacement for natural gas, it typically must be upgraded to 0–3% CO2 with specific restrictions and requirements dependent upon utility company guidelines and local regulations. To this end, ATMI has developed BrightBlack carbon, a molecular sieve material based on polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), which has the ability to selectively capture CO2 from a biogas stream with minimal sacrifice to overall CH4 production. ATMI and MV LLC have field tested a mobile pilot-scale vacuum swing adsorption (VSA) system at a commercial beverage manufacturer and two municipal wastewater treatment plants in the United States. The product gas produced during these field trials was found to meet pipeline and/or vehicle fuel purity requirements for CO2, while maintaining CH4 product yields of ≥85%. The results of this field testing and the BrightBlack adsorbent characteristics will be discussed.

Neal Megonnell is director of platform marketing for ATMI. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in chemical engineering and colloids, polymers, and surfaces from Carnegie Mellon University. He has over 20 years of experience in the activated carbon industry, has published many articles in various trade journals and industry publications, and holds two patents related to activated carbon. He is currently a member of the ASTM D-28 Activated Carbon Committee, as well as the American Water Works Association B604 Activated Carbon Committee. He can be reached by telephone at + or e-mail at

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