Our solution

Condimon2The Problem

Biogas plays an important role in achieving the mandatory EU target of reaching 20% renewable energy share by 2020 set by Horizon 202020, the renewable energy directive 2009/28/EC. Individual renewable targets of the EU Member States indicates that by the end of the decade biomass will account for 6,5% of the resources for electricity and over 17% for heating and cooling sources.

In Europe currently there are 13800 biogas plants but by 2020 the number of operations expected to reach 16000. Germany is the largest biogas producer with 8700 plants followed by Italy with 1264, Switzerland with 6060, Czech Republic with 481, Austria with 436, and the UK with 312 biogas production sites. [Source: EBA statistics from 2012]

Currently biogas engine operators often suffer from high costs associated with maintenance due to the special chemical attack on the engine and engine oil resulting from biogas operation. Quality degradation in oil can attack essential engine parts leading to increased wear and corrosive wear and to early failing of the machine. Although there is much scientific research and patents proposing oil quality sensor approaches for certain parameters, there are currently no commercially available sensor systems measuring all key parameters of oil quality needed to determine reliably the necessity of oil maintenance.

Innovative solution to the problem

 The aim of the Condimon project is to develop an integrated sensor system for in-line oil condition monitoring, covering the most important oil condition parameters. The sensor system will incorporate OEM sensors of permittivity, conductivity, viscosity, temperature and moisture content as well as a novel corrosion sensor. This unique sensor can directly measure the corrosion (acidification) of the lubricant, which is a critical parameter in combustion engines especially in case of bio-fuel based operations.

The prototype of the sensor system will contain the novel corrosion sensor and commercial sensing elements measuring permittivity, conductivity, viscosity, temperature and moisture content integrated in a PLC (Programmable Logic Control) based data acquisition system. The data provided by the sensor system will be processed and evaluated by a novel algorithm taking into account all measured physical parameters and will provide decision support on maintenance of the generators.

The 6 project partners have a clear and proven technological concept for the development of the novel corrosion (acidification) sensor while the cooperation with biogas plant maintainers enables thorough insight to current market needs.

Our solution will introduce:

  • new principles in evaluation of the condition of lubricating oils in biofuel driven engines
  • research on oil degradation, tribocorrosion and interaction of acidic compounds with metal surfaces
  • knowledgebase for biogas oil quality monitoring, algorithm to detect trends in oil quality
  • innovative design to provide industrial compatibility for multi-sensor oil monitoring

Impact

The Condimon sensor system is expected to offer a market-appropriate solution for biogas plant owners, operators and maintenance companies involved in biogas production from forest, agricultural and other waste stream (landfill, sewage sludge, municipal solid waste, food waste and other sources).

Advantages of our solution:

  • cost-effective oil condition monitoring with acceptable upfront investment
  • reduced costs associated with maintenance of biogas engine
  • better protection of biogas fuel engines and longer lifetime
  • early problem detection, reduced number of plant stop days due to engine problems
  • need based oil change intervals
  • less oil consumption, saving costs on biogas motor oil
  • reduced costs of oil sampling