Explosion protection in biogas and hybrid power plants

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Renewable energies became more and more important in the last years. The production of biogas using agricultural waste and the use of wind and solar energy in combination with water electrolysis is one way to substitute natural gas. Therefore the number of biogas plants is growing very fast in Germany. In the meantime, the operation of such plants is responsible for a significant number of accidents. New safety regulations on biogas plants and a short statistical summary of accidents in Germany are presented in the first part of this presentation. The main focus of the paper is the principle hazards arising from the substances and materials in biogas and hybrid power plants. Primarily, these are the hazards of fire and explosion induced by flammable methane gas. However, further hazards are the dangers of asphyxiation and poisoning by gases such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and ammonia. Furthermore, hydrogen is produced by water electrolysis in hybrid power plants and mixed with bio methane in some cases. In order to prevent explosions when handling biogas and hydrogen it is necessary to know the explosion limits of gas and gas mixtures in mixture with air. However, biogas from agricultural plants can vary significantly in its composition. Therefore, for each gas composition the explosion limits would have to be determined. This would require a considerable amount of time and effort. Due to this fact, the explosion limits of biogas are frequently referred to only by the methane fraction of the gas mixture in the safety-relevant literature. In reality as biogas can consist of methane, carbon dioxide and further residual gases the explosion limits are generally over or underestimated. A calculation method for explosion limits was developed by means of explosion diagrams to avoid such errors. In a last topic methods are shown for the calculation of gas spreading in case of leakages in gas buffers for risk evaluation and land use planning. For this purpose the German directive VDI 3783 was evaluated.




Schroeder, V., Schalau, B., & Molnarne, M. (2014). Explosion protection in biogas and hybrid power plants. In Procedia Engineering (Vol. 84, pp. 259–272). Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proeng.2014.10.433

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