Biogas From Manure To Power BMW's South Africa Plant

BMW Plant in South Africa to be Powered by Manure: Cow manure and other waste materials are used for creating biogasBMW Plant in South Africa to be Powered by Manure: Cow manure and other waste materials are used for creating biogas

 

German automaker BMW is attempting to do its part when it comes to reducing its carbon footprint. It seems that through the help of biogas the group is slowly but surely edging towards its goal of supplying all of its production facilities with renewable or sustainable energy in one form or another. In the case of their South African facility, the company has entered into a 10-year arrangement to purchase as much as 4.4 MW of electricity from a nearby biogas plant located some 50 miles outside the capital of Pretoria where they are located. The facility will then be at least partially powered by a combination of cow manure and organic waste materials.

Biogas


Surrounded by grazing land that roughly 30,000 cattle call home, the plant will supply between 25 percent and 30 percent of the electricity needed to run BMW’s factory in South Africa. The deal with the company that operates the power plant, Bio2Watt (Pty) Ltd., was garnered in order to bring BMW that much closer to its avowed renewable energy target. According to the Munich-based carmaker, roughly 51 percent of their energy needs are already supplied from renewable energy sources. This is far higher than any of their competitors in the auto industry. Beefcor (Pty) Ltd., the meat-supply company that currently owns the feedlot around Bio2Watt, views providing cow manure to the power plant as a win-win situation for disposal of waste in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner.

Renewable Energy Sources


The organic waste materials used in the process for making biogas consists predominantly of food wastes such as yogurt and old dog food. Local companies supplying the station also look upon the arrangement as a win-win situation to get rid of the waste in an environmentally friendly manner rather than diverting it to landfills, which the government would rather they avoid. According to Bio2Watt Chief Executive Officer Sean Thomas, the plant receives waste from several large companies. He was noted as saying, “You are looking at around 500 tons of waste coming onto the site every day being processed at the plant. A lot of the consultants, the waste companies, are knocking on the door.”

 

Waste materials from cows are often used for the creation of biofuels: BMW will be powering their plant in South Africa with biogasWaste materials from cows are often used for the creation of biofuels: BMW will be powering their plant in South Africa with biogas

 

Green Technology


When full production is realized, Bio2Watt will receive daily deliveries of fresh manure amounting to approximately 160 metric tons. Besides the manure and food wastes, the site’s other primary supplier for creating the biogas concoction is paper sludge from locally operated U.S. toilet-tissue manufacturers Kimberly-Clark Corp. The balance is composed of discarded fat from various restaurants, expired carbonated beverages and other similar waste products. The use of these otherwise pollutants in the manufacturing process of the biogas BMW will be using gives a boost to the local economy in sales and significantly reduces the level of garbage that would otherwise need to be properly disposed of.

Sustainable Energy Solutions


BMW is by no means the first or only company to use biogas predominantly fueled by cows. There are many companies in South America and the U.S. — particularly Wisconsin, America’s dairy state — that have been running their farms, ranches and plants for years on the smelly stuff. Some sources are so clean they’re boasted to be able to be run straight through existing gas lines without any adjustments or conversion measures. With any luck, more automakers will begin to follow suit with BMW’s lead serving as inspiration for not just talking the talk but walking the walk when it comes to creating cleaner, more energy efficient products beginning at the manufacturing level. At this point, with our growing technology, there really is no reason not to make use of the abundant waste materials we’re faced with every day in a more positive manner.