SORPA is testing biogas production from waste

Research Facility for Multi Semi-scale Experiments in Biogas

In beginning of the year 2012, a biogas research facility was built in order to deepen knowledge in biological processes oriented on waste treatment of SORPA, the waste management company owned by seven communities in the Great Reykjavik Area, Iceland.

This facility is located on the landfill site at Álfsnes where methane is already upgraded to vehicle fuel. The design is based on two 40ft containers. One is dedicated to laboratory work and measurement systems and the other one is containing bioreactors in order to run a complete replicated series of experiments with variating parameters (type of organic materials, pre-treatment methods, temperatures range, etc.). Ten vessels with a volume of 1m3 can be run at the same time.

3D model of SORPA research facility


A large amount of cheap geothermical energy is available in Iceland. This fact is reflected in the design of the research facility and it can run semi-scale experiments at thermophilic conditions (55 - 70 °C).

Innovative Pre-treatment

The pre-treatment phase is an important part of the process of methanisation since the whole efficiency of the process can be optimized at that point. The Laboratory container is equipped with a Pulsed Electro Field (PEF) cell which is capable of pre-treating organic material in order to increase the feedstock available for micro-organisms involved in methanization.

Online monitoring

Every vessel can be monitored using a licence-free monitoring system based on Open-source software.

Icelandic Biofuel Project

The first task assigned to the research facility is the participation of SORPA in the Icelandic Biofuel project. The main aim of this project is to fully cover the possibilities of producing all four main types of biofuels from resources available in Iceland (bioethanol, biohydrogen, biomethane and biomass-to-liquid fuels). SORPA’s task focuses on production of Bio-methane. The experimental setup is to test promising mesophilic and thermophilic strains at different temperatures and on eight different raw materials i.e. organic waste (MSW, industrial waste, landfill leachate), agricultural residues (manure) and leachate. The project is partly funded by the Technical Innovation fund of Iceland (RANNIS), and gathers icelandic partners toward a common goal.

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