BIO4GAS: A small capacity 4-chamber-biogas system for the efficient production of biogas from agricultural wastes

Implementation of an innovative and economic small capacity 4-chamber-biogas system in standardised design at the agricultural school Rotholz, Tyrol, and scientific studies to optimise biogas yield. Characterisation of process relevant micro-organisms is also planned.

Short Description




Small-scale biogas plants (< 50 kW electrical) are usually considered uneconomical due to the high costs for planning and construction. Through system simplification and standardisation a marketable product, suitable for serial production could be developed.

In a preliminary study an existing biogas plant based on a simple but efficient 4-chamber construction got analyzed and appeared to serve as a suitable starting model for the planned product. In further steps the 4-chamber plant concept could be optimised resulting in an innovative technology named BIO4GAS. The provincial agricultural school in Rotholz (Tyrol) was found as the ideal site for the construction of a demonstration plant.

Contents and Aims

The main target of the project was the construction and start-up of a biogas demonstration plant at the agricultural school in Rotholz. The functionality of the developed plant concept should be demonstrated at big scale and a further optimization of the plant efficiency was planed to be performed. Based on the acquired operation data and the specification of cost the profitability of the plant should be demonstrated.

Within the accompanying research program effects of the substrate composition on the anaerobic process should be studied. Through analysis of chemical-physical as well as microbiological parameters it was expected to optimize the process and to increase the gas yield. Furthermore a GIS based market evaluation for biogas plants in the province of Tyrol was planned.

Methodical Approach

For the construction of the demonstration plant a project consortium was founded by the following partners: Austrian Research Centers GmbH - ARC, University Innsbruck, the engineering firm BENNAT CONSULT and etaone energy GmbH. The plant was constructed at the agricultural school in Rotholz where it is implemented into the agricultural operations and will serve as a showpiece for a big publicity.

In the course of the accompanying research program preliminary experiments were conducted in four 100 litre lab-scale reactors at the University Innsbruck. All methods for the determination of the relevant process parameters (e.g. pH-value, COD, volatile fatty acids, gas quality) were established for routine analytics. From the obtained results an appropriate start-up strategy for the big scale plant was chosen.

At the plant in Rotholz the start-up was initiated and a monitoring of the process parameters was introduced. The collected data will serve for the numeric modelling of the anaerobic process in the BIO4GAS reactor.

Furthermore a characterisation of the diverse micro-organisms and their process dynamics is conducted.


The following main results could be achieved within the project:

  • Successful construction and initiation of start-up procedure of the BIO4GAS demonstration plant at the agricultural school in Rotholz. The official plant opening will be at the 2nd of April 2008.
  • Determination of the best start-up strategy for the demonstration plant based on the results of a lab-scale experiment. It was shown that a successful start-up without the use of an inoculum is possible.
  • Determination of the biogas potential of wastes from olive oil production and representation of their applicability as co-substrate in biogas plant. A joint EU-project with partners in Italy and Spain for the utilization of olive wastes in a BIO4GAS plant is in preparation.
  • Development of a Microarray for the analysis of methanogenic micro-organisms in biogas plants. The Microarray offers the possibility to determinate the presence of a big number of micro-organisms within just one experiment.
  • A GIS based evaluation of the market potential for biogas plants in the province of Tyrol.

Project Partners

Project management

ao. Univ. Prof. Dr. Heribert Insam
Universität Innsbruck - Institut für Mikrobiologie

Project collaborator

Universität Innsbruck - Institut für Mikrobiologie
DI (FH) Daniel Sperl
Dr. Marta Goberna
Dr. Ingrid Whittle
Mag. Sabine Podmirseg
Maria Gadermaier

Project or cooperation partner

  • Universität Innsbruck - Institut für Infrastruktur, AB Umwelttechnik
    Doz. DI Dr. Bernhard Wett
    DI Michael Schön
  • Austrian Research Centers GmbH - ARC
    Doz. DI Dr. Georg Haberhauer
    Ing. Gerald Wögerer
  • Ingenieurbüro BENNAT CONSULT
    DI Michael Wagner
    DI (FH) Harald Lochner
  • etaone energy GmbH
    Dipl.-Ing. Michele Schiliro
    Ing. Reinhold Leser
    Ing. Michael Lassager
  • Landwirtschaftliche Landeslehranstalt Rotholz
    Dir. DI Josef Norz
    Dir. Stv. DI Hannes Haas
    DI Josef Stoll
    Georg Lechner

Contact Address

Universität Innsbruck
Institut für Mikrobiologie
Technikerstraße 25d
A-6020 Innsbruck
Tel.: +43 (512) 507 - 6009
Fax: 43 (512) 507 - 2928