Two Danish biotechnology firms—Novozymes A/S and Xergi A/S— are collaborating on the co-development of microorganisms and environmental technologies for the optimal harvest of energy from manure products for use in the production of electricity, heat, and transportation fuels, as well as high-quality fertilizer.
Currently, Denmark converts less than 5% of its agricultural manure to energy in the form of biogas. Of this 5%, only 50% of the energy is harvested. If all the energy stored in Danish manure could be extracted, it could, according to the Danish Board of Technology, supply 25% of the energy required by the Danish transport sector.
This initiative is part of one of five focus areas defined by the Danish Ministry of the Environment for business-to-business partnerships designed to strengthen Denmark’s competitive abilities. The areas are:
Giant wind turbines;
Hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells; and
Industrial biotechnology—the locus for the Novozymes/Xergi project.
The Partnership for Industrial Biotechnology has chosen to focus on the area of manure management. Several other private and public institutes are also participating in the industrial biotechnology project, among them the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at Århus University, where Xergi has recently supplied a large anaerobic digestion facility in Foulum.
Through their joint effort, Novozymes and Xergi, which is jointly owned by the holding company Schouw & Co. and Hedeselskabet, will develop microorganisms and technologies to harvest the valuable components from manure in the form of energy and nutrients. The process will, in part, optimize the yield of energy from these slurries, and increase the quality of the by-product for use as fertilizer.
While Novozymes can develop microorganisms so they optimize the processes in a biogas facility, Xergi has close contact to the market and knows how to optimize the technology where it will be installed and used.
The ambition and goal of the collaboration between Novozymes and Xergi is to increase substantially the yield of energy from manure so society can get enhanced access to a green, sustainable source of energy that can be used for electricity, heating and the transport, all delivered via the existing natural gas system.