Biogas upgrading to biomethane has received particular attention in recent years as a key strategy to produce a natural gas-substitute from biomass. Among the available upgrading technologies, amine-based absorption is an interesting option because of its low electric power consumption and very high methane recovery rates. This paper assesses the energy and economic performance of a biogas upgrading process involving chemical absorption with two different aqueous solvent formulations: 50%w MDEA and a 20%w/20%w MDEA/MEA blend. The process performance is evaluated with Aspen Plus and the optimal process conditions are determined with a multi-objective optimization approach targeting the maximum efficiency and minimum specific equipment cost. In the proposed scheme, to make the system energy-self-sufficient, an internal combustion engine burns a fraction of the raw biogas stream to co-generate both the electric power for the upgrading process and the thermal power required for solvent regeneration. Aqueous MDEA turns out to be more efficient (Pareto dominant curve) and less expensive than the MDEA/MEA blend, as a result of the lower regeneration energy (0.94 kJ/Nm3BM/h vs 1.43 kJ/Nm3BM/h) which yields to lower energy consumptions and smaller engine sizes. Even though the cost estimates are subject to a higher degree of uncertainty, the MDEA option features an expected specific total equipment cost as low as 1,550 €/(Nm3BM/h)) vs. 1,850 €/(Nm3BM/h)) for the MDEA/MEA blend.
Capra, F., Fettarappa, F., Magli, F., Gatti, M., & Martelli, E. (2018). Biogas upgrading by amine scrubbing: Solvent comparison between MDEA and MDEA/MEA blend. In Energy Procedia (Vol. 148, pp. 970–977). Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2018.08.065