Case 3.2: 3B Bioenergie - energy production and special processing of digestate - Germany

Detailed Information

Name of the company: 3B Bioenergie

Country: Germany

Size of the business: 9 employees


The enterprise was originally engaged in dairy farming. In 1998, a small biogas plant was developed to complement agricultural activities. The aim was to process the farm’s own slurry in a biogas plant and to produce digestate from manure to improve the nutrient supply of grasslands. The enterprise started with a small biogas plant as a dairy farmer, today they are primarily a biogas owner with a few cows.

Main activities

The main activities are energy production (electricity and heat) and fertilizer production. The side activity is agriculture. The outputs from the main activity are heat, electricity, ammonia-sulphate-solution and digestate (dried, solid, raw and liquid).


The company is a big energy supplier for regional stakeholders (spa clinic, indoor tennis centre, public building, and indoor swimming pool). Farmers are the customers for the digestate. The main channels for reaching the clients are through direct communication or via the internet.

Challenges and solutions

The enterprise is interested in new fields like insects, algae and mushroom production. The challenge is in utilizing the insects or hydrogen for biological methanisation with feed. There is a potential in the expansion of organic fertilizer processing from fermentation residues and in the expansion of utilization of farm manure with the help of algae or fish. The limits are set by required nutrients that have to be transported and by the availability of substrates in the region and their costs. The biggest challenges are connected with the laws and the legal frameworks, as the requirements for the safe handling of nutrients are increasing and thus its costs are increasing, while the income from the activities has stayed the same. The ending of Germany’s energy transformation policy Energiewende after 20 years is a big problem for the company. Partners are still being sought for the planned expansion.


The biogas plant, established in 1998, was developed and expanded with Energiewende funding and financing by banks. By selling electricity and heat for a fix price, the company was able to invest in new processes. Without these subsidies no further invest would be possible.

What makes this case innovative?

The 3B Bioenergie plant produces 1.7 mWh electric energy plus heat for local distance heating public houses (library, public bathhouse, etc.). The processing of the produced digestate is also of particular interest due to technological solution. The digestate gets separated by screw presses and dried. The liquid phase after the screw presses runs through a stripping and scrubbing process producing ammonium sulphate solution. The remaining phosphorus after this process is tried to get recovered by producing CAP and MAP (Struvite) precipitation.

Other related Business Cases

Case 3.1: Kurana – production of bioethanol, electricity and heat from renewable resources in a closed technological loop – Lithuania

Case 1.1: Ecopellet – environmentally friendly biofuels and pet products from sustainable raw materials – Estonia

Case 1.2: Quercus – production of solid biofuels for energy – Poland

Case 4.1: Przedsiębiorstwo Energetyki Cieplnej – energy efficient district heating system – Poland 

Case 5.1: SunPine – an entrepreneurial bio-refinery – Sweden

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