Biogas is a renewable and environmentally friendly fuel made from 100% local feedstocks that is suitable for a diversity of uses including road vehicle fuel and industrial uses. How is biogas produced?
Recycled fertilizers and nutrients advance circular economy
Alongside the production of biogas, converting biowaste into organic fertilizer products is another concrete example of Gasum’s efforts for promoting the circular economy. In Sweden, the focus is especially on developing products for organic farmers.
In addition to biogas, Gasum’s biogas plant network in Finland and Sweden produces high-quality recycled nutrient and fertilizer products for use in agriculture and industry. In 2019, our biogas plants produced altogether 740,000 tons of nutrient products. The use of recycled nutrients and fertilizers reduces the use of fossil based mineral nutrients, such as the use of scarce phosphorus resources, and helps to cut emissions originating in the manufacture of fossil nutrients.
The use of the digestion residue from biogas production as a soil-enhancing product also improves soil health. Digestion residue-based soil-enhancing products contain carbon compounds that make soils more fertile for food production.
Gasum is active in developing new products, technologies and partnerships in the area. According to Bertil Hult, Business Development, Biofertilizer at Gasum Sweden, the focus of development work is currently on what kind of adjustments can be made to the feedstock to improve the quality especially with regards to higher nitrogen content and good fibre quality.
“We are now focusing on two new segments, biocompost and a new type of high-quality liquid biofertilizer. The biocompost is targeted at soil producers and for high-value products, such as organic consumer products. The new liquid biofertilizer has very low dry matter content, so it can be used in drip irrigation systems both on fields and in greenhouse production. Both these markets have great potential,” Hult says.
High-quality products, local service
All of Gasum’s nutrient products are high in hygiene quality, as any pathogens, pests and weed seeds are destroyed by heating the feedstock mass to a temperature above 70 °C. In Sweden, all the fertilizers are certified through SPCR 120 and most of the volume is also certified for organic use.
Considering competitive advantages, Hult says that certain biogas plants use a vegetable feedstock, which makes Gasum unique, and opens up possibilities for reaching the vegetarian product market where there is a growing demand for organic soils and fertilizers.
“We also have production focusing on different qualities in several locations in Sweden, which answers to the needs of, for example, our main partner and customer Hasselfors Garden. Local production makes the production much easier and more cost-effective,” Hult says.
Gasum aims to serve local farmers locally and flexibly around the year. Hult says that daily contacts with farmers are handled with expert knowledge on the seasonal challenges and demands that farmers are facing.
“At certain sites we also offer the possibility of ordering an entire service including fertilizer spreading. It allows farmers without storage facilities to use biofertilizers that are usually used in spring.”
Circular economy at the core of R&D
All in all, Hult sees that advancing the organic fertilizer business in Sweden requires both knowledge on regional markets and finding the right partners for creating new products for the entire sector.
“Currently, we have several trials ongoing with partners and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, where we are focusing on developing the mentioned biocompost and liquid biofertilizer products. An example of a product already on the consumer market is a chili and tomato soil by Hasselfors that has biocompost content. We have also produced a liquid for our client Spisa for use in herb production as a base when mixing fertilizers for greenhouses,” Hult says.
Gasum will continue product development related to recycled fertilizers and nutrients in collaboration with its partners. In Sweden’s case, contributing to circular economy projects can also help to boost the country’s ecological food production. At best, new advances in biogas production have the potential to change the nutrient and fertilizer market in the same way that biogas is changing the transport sector.