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CMMS and methane plants maintenance

CMMS and methane plants maintenance

Monday 03 january 2022

Renewable energies are playing an increasingly important role in the electricity mix worldwide. The exploitation of new resources is progressing rapidly with the aim of dethroning fossil fuels to clean up the planet. In this honourable competition, methanisation plants are in the race.

So, if you are a player in the bioenergy market, you are participating in the depollution of the planet. The essential resource used here is biomass. It is derived from a process of photosynthesis thanks to the sun and has been used as fuel since prehistoric times. It was still one of the most widely used resources in the United States until the mid-1800s. Easily produced, biomass is used by many developing countries to fuel their cooking and heating systems. Today, it is used in a variety of ways, including being converted into biogas in anaerobic digestion plants.

To remain competitive in the energy market, your plant must implement a maintenance strategy for your installations... and maintenance means CMMS. The integration of a CMMS tool will help you in your daily work and in the efficiency of your production. But how does it work? How can this tool be integrated into the methanisation market?

The methanisation plant sector

Methanisation is a natural process based on the degradation of biomass (organic matter of plant and animal origin) by the sun and photosynthesis. This material comes from household and agricultural waste, excrement, sludge from sewage treatment plants, wood scraps from sawmills and many other compostable wastes. This biomass is then processed in anaerobic digestion plants to become biogas or, more precisely, biomethane.

Unlike composting, methanisation takes place in an oxygen-free environment. Created by a fermentation process, biomethane is used as a fuel to produce electricity or heat. This natural gas therefore makes it possible to produce energy and reduce the waste produced by humans and animals, for a circular eco-energy.

Every year, humans generate over 105 billion tonnes of organic waste worldwide. As this waste decomposes, it releases methane and other harmful greenhouse gases directly into the atmosphere. Methanisation plants can control this phenomenon and recycle this material into a useful resource. Today, only 2% of this waste is treated and recycled. By managing this treatment, we could reduce global GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions by 10% by 2030, starting now. This leaves a bright future for anaerobic digestion plants.

In 2018, there was only 18 GW of biogas production capacity in the world. Most of these plants are located in Germany, the USA and the UK. Capacity has increased on average by 4% per year between 2010 and 2018. In recent years we have seen a slowdown, mainly due to political changes. However, there is an acceleration in other markets such as China and Turkey. In France, the ENGIE Group aims to produce 4 TWh of biomethane by 2030.

However, it is important to be aware that the operation of this type of plant is not without risks. Methane in high concentrations can cause fires, explosions and poisoning. Without optimal conditioning of this biogas, it can become very polluting for the environment around your plant.

Today, it seems important to help develop this production sector. As a professional in this field, or as a future professional, your investment will not be in vain. The waste we produce can have a better future, thanks to you. This indefinite source needs all your expertise to become an ecological resource. To help you and prevent accidents, we will look at the importance of maintaining your equipment. 

The maintenance of methanisation plants

We have seen that securing methanisation plants is an essential point in the development of your business. This security is achieved through the maintenance of your assets: aerotherm, exchanger, pump, boiler, high voltage substation. This maintenance will mainly have to be done through regular minor repairs of your equipment by specialised technicians. It is also important to completely remove the organic debris stored at the bottom of the tanks.

This maintenance work will prevent possible technical failures while increasing the life span of your equipment. You will thus avoid accidents and secure your methanization plant. The operation of your plant and the production of biomethane will be more optimized and your services will be ensured without hindrance.

The installation of measurement equipment on your assets will even allow you to spot problems before they occur. Coupled with a maintenance management tool (CMMS), these new technologies will help you manage your plant. You will be able to monitor and control the rate of biomethane production, the formation of floating sludge layers or foam in the tank, the composition of your gas, the temperature in your plant, and the pH value.

All these variables will help you to carry out maintenance activities adapted to your needs. This maintenance allows your assets to last over time and to respect safety and environmental standards. But what is a CMMS tool?

The contribution of CMMS to methanization

To begin with, let's remember that CMMS is a Computer-Aided Maintenance Management software. This maintenance tool supports your business objectives and guarantees the performance of your plant. If you have not yet deployed this technology within your organization, its arrival, or in some cases the replacement of a poorly adapted solution by a modern CMMS will quickly have an impact on the productivity of your teams and your facility. The CMMS acts as a guide, with best practices, allowing you to build and follow "just in time" preventive maintenance plans, to plan all the maintenance tasks of your technical teams and external contributors, to easily collect a mass of data and information that is very precious for the perfect operation of your plant.

This maintenance platform will allow you to anticipate and avoid failures, to maintain your equipment in operational conditions, to ensure a very high level of safety, while continuing your production. The goal is to act in adequacy and by priority of intervention. Thus, you will be able to avoid generalized breakdowns which could lead to the stopping of your services and to considerable financial losses. The overall performance of your plant and your assets will be optimized on a daily basis.

The CMMS saves considerable time and allows you to respect the environmental standards imposed on your operation.

This combination of advantages is an unparalleled boost to the methanization plants and to the evolution of its services. Every action taken for the common good is one more step towards the depollution of our planet.

Conclusion

As we have presented in this article, anaerobic digestion plants and green energy have a promising future ahead of them. Despite the use of biomass since the dawn of time, the exploitation of this resource in anaerobic digestion plants is still underdeveloped. A good management of methane is of considerable interest to reduce the accumulation of waste and air pollution. The production of biomethane is part of an unparalleled circular ecology approach. However, this production must remain under control.

The implementation of a CMMS solution within your installation is a major asset. Your maintenance will become predictive, scalable, based on the results of your analyses. Your equipment will be more efficient, more available and will have a longer lifespan. This foresight will accelerate your return on investment. Your teams, guided by the maintenance tool, will evolve their techniques to achieve a more optimized work. Your potential, thus increased tenfold, will satisfy your customers, public authorities and the planet.

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