How Methaplanet is using CPM Technology to Revolutionize Biogas Production

a pile of animal feed pellets on a white background
The story of Methaplanet’s Maxximizer, a technology that can increase biogas outputs by as much as 5x, starts with a girl who loved horses.

There’s nothing unusual about a girl loving horses, but for the daughter of Methaplanet founder Xander Sandell, that love turned into serious athletic pursuit and joined the world of international equestrian show jumping, competing in France and throughout Europe.  

As Xander proudly followed his daughter from equestrian event to equestrian event, he noticed an inescapable fact about horses: they produce a lot of waste.  Largely in the form of manure. 

“Every place we went to a competition,” said Xander, “there were these huge piles of straw-based manure.” 

What Xander noticed at his daughter’s equestrian events is true around the world on a much broader scale.  

Methane Challenges & Opportunities

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with a warming impact that’s 86x stronger than CO2 over a 20-year period1.  Agriculture is responsible for about 40% of all global methane emissions,  with animal manure and fermentation accounting for about 32% of overall emissions.

But, while methane emitted directly into the atmosphere represents a significant threat to our climate, methane that’s captured represents a tremendous opportunity.  It can be used in electricity generation, heating and cooling, to create fuels like natural gas, as a cooking fuel and in the production of organic fertilizer. 

These challenges and opportunities have created a boom in the number of biogas plants coming online every year.  These plants capture methane from sources like manure, keeping it from entering the atmosphere and making it available as a valuable resource.  As of 2022, there were more than 1,3202 biomethane plants operating in just the European Union, with more than 250 coming online in 2022 alone.  

Innovation Inspired by Horse Manure

After encountering the challenge of horse manure at his daughter’s equestrian events, Xander couldn’t let it go.  In fact, over the next 8-years, he would invest more than €3-million developing Maxximizer, the core technology behind Methaplanet. 

“I’m not a scientist, but I know that if you go step-by-step, you move forward,” said Xander. 

Xander and the company he founded focused on technology that could make biogas plants more efficient.   One of the biggest barriers to biogas processing plants is a lack of feedstock, which affects their cost-effectiveness.  By allowing these plants to create more biogas from the same amount of input materials, they can become significantly more cost-effective. 

“After many tests,” says Xander, “we came to pellets, and that’s when we met CPM.”  

Methaplanet had developed a specialized pellitizing process that could increase biomethane production by up to 500%.  Now, they had to put it into practice. 

A Partnership with CPM

During his research phase, Xander and his team frequently traveled to Kyiv, which has long been a leading academic research center for straw-to-energy technologies.  Methaplanet partnered with researchers from the university in developing their core technology. . 

During one of his trips, Xander was taken to a facility at the university in Kyiv that was pellitizing straw-based manure for a Methaplanet study.  

“There was a CPM pellet mill that was at least 25 years old,” said Xander. “It was dusty.  It didn’t look like it had been very well maintained.  But the professor told me it had been running nearly 24/7 since it was installed, without any problems.”

When Xander began looking for an equipment provider for Methaplanet’s pelleting needs, that same professor told him, “don’t look further, these are the best.” 

But, like any good businessperson, Xander needed to do his due diligence.  After evaluating pellet mills from several other providers, he came to agree with the professor.  

“We tested several different manufacturers,” said Xander.  “But with CPM, the machines had more parameters we could adjust to get the result that we needed, and the result was much better.” 

Beyond Just Pellet Mills

“For us,” said Xander, “the very-good products that CPM makes are only about 30% of the reason we do business with them.  The other 70% is the relationship.” 

On the CPM side, that relationship is represented by Oskar Schaap – the Sales Director for CPM Industrial Solutions. 

“It’s true that our hammermills and pellet mills are essential to producing pellets that can meet the quality requirements for the Maxximizer,” said Oskar.  “But the other thing we’re providing them  is our process expertise.” 

CPM’s engineers and process experts worked closely with Methaplanet’s staff to plan, develop, build and launch the company’s first plant in France.  Now, that plant is up and running and Methaplanet is looking to its future growth.

The Future of Methaplanet

Xander and his colleagues see significant opportunities for growth of Methaplanet and its Maxximizer technology.  The company is currently developing opportunities in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Spain, and sees future opportunities around the globe. 

“We’re currently focused on the European market, but looking to Asia and the Americas in the future,” said Xander.  

He sees significant opportunities with the pork industry in the United States, as well as countries like India where pollution from burning straw can cause significant environmental challenges.  

“We have the tools, we have the right partners, and we all want to make this planet a little better,” said Xander.  

Product Spotlight

1https://www.ccacoalition.org/short-lived-climate-pollutants/methane
2European Biogas Association. (2023). EBA Statistical Report 2023 Launch webinar. European Biogas Association. https://www.europeanbiogas.eu/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/EBA-Statistical-Report-2023-Launch-webinar.pdf

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