Danish Crown becomes co-owner of promising climate technology

To turbocharge the rollout of the technology, Danish Crown has bought into the company AgroGas, which has developed a technology where methane gas from slurry tanks is burned off to reduce the climate footprint. A method that can potentially reduce the CO2 emissions from a kilo of pork by 10 to 20 %.

Posted on Mar 19 ,00:10

Danish Crown becomes co-owner of promising climate technology

It may sound strange that a burning gas torch at a slurry tank can reduce the climate footprint of a kilo of pork. But it is an undisputed fact, because when it is methane gas from a slurry tank that drives the flame, the harmful greenhouse gas is converted into CO2. The method is relatively new, and calculations show that the climate impact from the methane that is burned is reduced by over 95 %.

"We have seen enormous potential in this technology from the start, which is why we have now chosen to buy into AgroGas. In this way, we ensure that Danish Crown's unit owners can both be first with the technology, and at the same time we as a company can help develop one of the new technologies that can really contribute to a green transformation of agriculture", says Jais Valeur, Group CEO of Danish Crown.

The technology is an outgrowth of the company Deponigas ApS, which for more than 20 years has worked with gas recovery from landfills in Denmark. In 2019, the first attempt to use the technology to burn methane gas from manure was started, and when the initial tests showed enormous potential, the company AgroGas was founded with the aim of spreading the technology within agriculture. This initially led to a partnership with Danish Crown, which is now being extended to co-ownership.

"We have been happy with the partnership with Danish Crown. Therefore, we see a very large potential in the co-ownership, which will boost the rollout of AgroGas plants and not least the scaling of the business in Denmark first and then abroad for the benefit of the climate", say Peter Foged Larsen and Mikkel Kastensand, founders of AgroGas.

The AgroGas technology is currently part of the GUDP project LESS (Low Emission Slurry Storages), which must validate the effect with the aim of getting on the list of the future's most promising technologies for reducing methane emissions from slurry tanks. The project is carried out in collaboration with SEGES, Landia and Aarhus University, where senior researcher Anders Peter Adamsen describes the technology as promising.

"It looks like, with effective sealing of the covered slurry tanks and active collection of gas from the slurry tanks, you will be able to collect and burn methane gas almost all year round", says senior researcher Anders Peter Adamsen, who together with colleagues and AgroGas has worked to optimize and document the technology over the past few years:

"It is an extremely important step, as methane gas is an incredibly potent climate gas, and certainly one that we can do something about with this new technology. We have a great need to find technologies that can reduce methane gas from slurry tanks, as frequent dumping of manure in barns will give more methane gas in the manure tank.

Danish Crown insists that the project is a good example of how Denmark can develop technologies that can reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from agriculture.

"As a company, we have a stated goal of driving development in the pursuit of creating a more sustainable future for meat. This is a very concrete initiative, and we will work purposefully to both develop and spread the technology, and I certainly do not want to rule out that there may be other types of projects in the future", says Jais Valeur.

It is currently being investigated whether the reduction of the CO2 footprint that occurs when the methane gas from slurry tanks is burned can be converted into CO2 certificates. It is expected to be clarified within a few months.    

The first plant is currently being commissioned, and more are on the way. The results are continuously evaluated, and if they live up to expectations, the plan is to offer the technology to all unit owners in Danish Crown.

Why does torch technology make a difference to the climate?

It does so because methane gas damages the atmosphere 28 times more than CO2…

… BUT when one of our farmers lights the torch and the flame burns, the methane gas is converted into CO2. In fact, when one kilogram of carbon in methane gas is burned off, it is converted into exactly one kilogram of CO2 measured as carbon. Therefore, the CO2 load from each kilogram of gas burned is reduced 28 times. So a flare system makes a huge difference. 

Technically, the torch system works like this:

A pump sucks methane gas out of the top of a closed slurry tank. From there, the methane gas is pumped to the flare, where the gas is burned off and converted into CO2. The reason why it is better to emit CO2 than methane is that the methane gas out in the atmosphere captures far more of the heat that radiates from the earth and therefore contributes more to global warming. In addition, as a natural part of their growth, plants and trees also absorb CO2 to build up biomass.

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