Agricultural Resources for Biogas Production

Genotypes of energy plants adapted to the location will be identified and specialist crop rotation adapted to the location will be developed. The fermentation process will be optimised and the methane energy model will be advanced. The efficiency of the biogas production will be enhanced.

Short Description




Biogas is a sustainable, biogenous, renewable energy source which is widely used to produce electricity today. In contrast to other biogenous energy sources, biogas has the potential to account for up to 25% of the natural gas consumption in Austria. The proportion of biogas from primary energy in Austria will increase considerably when it is possible to clean biogas and feed it into the natural gas network. At present, this successfully takes place at the laboratory scale. To develop this technology at the pilot scale and to enable the profitability for large-scale conversion, it is planned to develop a process to clean gas to natural gas quality from an existing biogas plant and to feed the cleaned gas into the natural gas network. Then it can be "virtually" (i.e. by calculation) delivered to consumers who are far away from the point of delivery. The effectiveness of the overall operation can be reached soonest when used as virtual biogas to fuel cars. With scientific support from BOKU and TU Vienna, several partners including: a biogas producer, a construction firm, members of the gas industry and from the car industry, as well as a taxi company want to clean biogas in a pilot project; feed the biogas into the network and use it to fuel a fleet of vehicles. To increase the acceptability of gas as a car fuel, the delivery pressure at the service station and in the car should be increased, thus improving the range of the car.

Aims and Contents of the Project:

This project is part of the venture "Agricultural Resources for Biogas Production". In order to fully exploit the available potentials of biogas production, ecologically optimized and renewable crop rotation systems must be developed, which use the genotypes of important energy plant species most suitable for biogas production. All cultivation techniques used before, during, and between cropping periods; thereby a play a role. At present however, there is little information about optimal genotypes, their optimal harvest times, and locally adapted crop rotation systems with high energy potential. Furthermore, the optimal temporal filling capacity of the fermenter (fermenter management) plays a large role regarding efficiency increase. The goal of this project is it to close these existing knowledge gaps, and to compile and economically and ecologically evaluate the information urgently necessary for practice.

Project Activity:

The fist part of the proposal will last 18 months (from may 2006 to October 2007; renewal proposal from November 2007). The overall project is divided into 5 work packages (WP).

In WP 1, suitable locally adapted genotypes of important energy plant species (maize, sorghum, sunflower, sugar beet, wheat, rye, triticale) are to be identified and optimal harvest times determined. Furthermore, the optimal use intensity of grassland is to be determined. Based on the test results of laboratory trials (full analysis of methane yield, nutrient composition), the Methane Energy Value Model (MEVM), developed in previous research projects, will be further developed; improved in its output reliability and estimate accuracy.

In WP 2 the basics of designing more efficiently, ecologically balanced crop rotations for the production of fermenting raw materials for biogas production are to be further developed; as well as, concepts of fertilization meeting demand of crop rotations, as only a renewable cultivation of energy crops can bring continued success.

In WP 3 the fermentation is optimized by adapted nutrient supply and loading rate of the fermenters. Enzymes are used to improve the efficiency of fermentation. Subsequently, the transferability of the laboratory trial results into practice is reviewed (in the working biogas facility: Bruck at the Leitha).

In WP 4 the efficiency of the fermenting raw material production as well as the fermentation process is examined.

WP 5 builds on the results of the attempts in the preceding work packages. The collected data will serve as basis for the ecological optimization of fermenting raw material production and the fermentation process by means of ecological accounting.

Results of the Project:

The results of the project are tools (MEVM - Methane Energy Value Model), data and characteristic values that are urgently needed for practical application of optimized fermenting raw material production, utilization of the fermenting raw material for biogas production and fertilization with fermented residues of energy plants and left over materials from food production. The results are qualified by the economical, ecological and technical aspects in order to optimize biogas production.

Project Partners

Project leader

Ao. Univ.Prof. Dipl. Ing. Dr. Thomas Amon


Universität für Bodenkultur
Department für Nachhaltige Agrarsysteme
Institut für Landtechnik

Contact address

Ao. Univ.Prof. Dipl. Ing. Dr. Thomas Amon &
Dipl. Ing. Regina Hrbek
Peter-Jordan-Strasse 82
1190 Wien
Tel.: 01/47654-3502 und. -3515
Fax.: 04/47654-3527
Internet: Institut für Landtechnik

Project partners

  • Umweltbundesamt GmbH
  • Niederösterreichische Landes-Landwirtschaftskammer
  • Landeskammer für Land- und Forstwirtschaft Stmk
  • Landwirtschaftliche Fachschule Tulln
  • HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein
  • Biogasanlage Bruck/Leitha GmbH & Co KG
  • GE Jenbacher GmbH & Co OHG
  • KWS Saat AG
  • AgroMais Saatzucht GmbH
  • OMV AG
  • EVN AG
  • Wien Energie Gasnetz GmbH
  • Die Rübenbauern
  • HOLMER Maschinenbau GmbH
  • AGRANA Beteiligungs-AG
  • Saatbau Linz OÖ Landes-Saatbaugenossenschaft reg. Gen.m.b.H
  • Pioneer Saaten GmbH
  • Biogest Umwelttechnik GmbH
  • Landwirtschaftskammer NÖ
  • RWA - Raiffeisen Ware Austria AG