Biological methane instead of batteries: Messina invents experimental plant that transforms carbon dioxide into green energy


By John

One of the most important challenges that humanity will face in the coming years will be that of conserve renewable energy. Short-term storage is relatively simple, as is its instant use. Management in the medium or long term becomes much more complicated. There are peaks of surplus that are not easy to distribute along the electricity grid instantly: the batteries are no longer enough, gigantic ones would be needed and they would also be very expensive to manage.

It has been working on this front for years Res Italia (Reliable Environmental Solutions), a cooperative company based in Ravenna, founded in 2004 by Chato Della Casa, originally from Vulcano (ME).

The company is committed to the development and promotion of innovative plant applications and solutions, based on anaerobic digestion. Today Res is an Italian excellence in research and innovation up to the first prototyping phase, with three partners at the helm. The president is Davide Bersani, 48 year old graduate in Mechanical Engineering and designer of R&D machines and systemsin the company he deals with design for the construction of prototype systems and experimental equipment.

Chato Della Casa, 51 years old, is the vice-president: graduated in Environmental Sciences and landscape architect. At RES he deals in particular with the Biogas sector and collaborates in the activities of plant design, study and analysis of biomassR&D projects and creation of experimental equipment.

In the end Stefano Silvi, 44 year old graduate in Building Engineering-Architecture and Energy certifier in Buildings authorized in the Emilia-Romagna Region. All 3 RES partners are also among the founders (together with others) of an innovative start-up in the food sector, active since 2017, called NeroFermento, a sort of spin-off of RES. The main objective of RES is to provide products and services useful for supporting technological progress, reconciling the principles of environmental protection and circular economy.

The core business is the development of technological solutions for the use of renewable energy, energy saving, safeguarding the environment with a view to the circular economy. They create anaerobic digestion (plug-flow technology) and biological methanation pilot plants, bench fermenters, biogas upgrading pilot plants, steam explosion pilot plants.

Today the team is made up of half a dozen engineers and scientists, the offices are located near a production space in Ravenna where prototypes are created and experiments are carried out. They represent one of the Italian excellences for applied research, they go from drawings to prototypes in the same spaces, courageous scientists capable of experimenting in search of the best eco-sustainable solutions. The most recent innovation proposed has extraordinary application potential. It is in fact a biological methanation plant, built for the Sardegna Ricerche Agency, at its operational headquarters in the industrial area of ​​Cagliari. In fact, the plant consists of a reactor in which specialized bacterial strains grow that feed on carbon dioxide (introduced via cylinders in this experimental phase, but in fact one of the pollutants that cause the most problems for the environment) and hydrogen ( produced by the hydrolysis of water).

This last process needs energy to happen, which it can green energy produced from any excess of non-programmable renewable energy, which is stored in the form of methane through the conversion of hydrogen through biological methanation. Thus, for example, we move from a surplus of solar energy, which cannot be stored long-term in batteries, to methane, an energy resource that can typically be stored and preserved without enormous complications.

“The biological methanation process has been known for some time, but the plant we have created in collaboration with Sardegna Ricerche, where it is active, is certainly unique in its kind. an energy circularity project well integrated with other systems that we had installed in past years”, explains the CEO of Res Italia, Davide Bersani. “But the applications that we foresee possible, through this process, are truly countless if we just think that a pollutant such as carbon dioxide is used to produce renewable energy. Our goal is to develop technological solutions that allow us to address and resolve energy and environmental problems, ensuring sustainable development in the relevant sectors of intervention”.