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Ruby Mountain for Central Valley LNG

March 29, 2013 in Biomethane, LNG, Technology by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Grant Would Bridge Biogas and Small-Scale LNG Production,
Goal Is 10,000 LNG Gallons Per Day for Less than $20 Million

Salt Lake City-based Ruby Mountain is working to bridge economical biogas and small-scale liquefaction technologies with an eye to being able to produce, two to three years from now, about 10,000 gallons of LNG per day for a capital cost now estimated at just $12 million to $20 million.

From ponds to plant – Valley Air money would help bridge the gap between biogas from cows and LNG fuel for trucks.

From ponds to plant – Valley Air money would help bridge the gap between biogas from cows and LNG fuel for trucks.

The truck fueling facility would likely be built in the Fresno area, says Ruby Mountain principal Jon Lear.

A technology advancement grant of about $470,000 is being negotiated with Valley Air, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (F&F, March 20). Valley Air would pay for equipment to purify and compress the biogas to serve as a feed for the liquefaction unit.

Livestock is the likeliest source of feedstock for Ruby Mountain.

Livestock is the likeliest source of feedstock for Ruby Mountain.

“The grant is to bridge the gap,” Lear says, between his two technology partners: Go2Water for biogas, and LNG Energy Solutions.

  • Kensington, Calif.-based Go2 Water has a process dubbed AIWPS, for advanced integrated waste ponding system, that yields a 90%-methane biogas from biological waste using multi-layer digestion ponds. “Bugs at the bottom and algae at the top,” says Lear, summarizing a complex installation with methane-producing microbes in the deeper part of the ponds and carbon dioxide-consuming algae closer to the surface.
    “You end up with a carbon-negative bio-digester that can be made to work to scale,” he told F&F, and “a purity of gas I could not find anywhere else.” Cost, Lear says, is about 50% to 60% that of conventional anaerobic digestion systems. Drawback? “You need more land and you give it more time.”
  • Cannonsburg, Pa.-based LNG-ES has licensed small-scale natural gas liquefaction technology from the Idaho National Laboratory. The INL process takes advantage of “the natural cooling effect that occurs with pressure let-down” to liquefy the waste-derived biomethane.
    It is one of several technology options, Lear says.

The Valley Air money will pay for equipment to dry the Go2Water biogas product, and compress it for the LNG-ES liquefier. “That’s the only piece that’s never been built,” Lear says.

His task is to find a Central Valley dairy with enough cows to serve as a reliable source of manure for the Go2 Water ponds, and investors to fund construction of the commercial-scale LNG-ES production unit.

And, Lear says, “We’re looking for existing fleets” to make use of the fuel. Given a market piece of $3 to $4 for a million cubic feet of natural gas, his fuel will be cost competitive with conventional LNG. Federal RIN and California LCFS (low carbon fuel standard) credits will further sweeten the proposition.


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Source: Valley Air and Fleets & Fuels follow-up

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