A review on the state-of-the-art of physical/chemical and biological technologies for biogas upgrading

Raúl Muñoz, Leslie Meier, Israel Diaz, David Jeison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

450 Scopus citations


The lack of tax incentives for biomethane use requires the optimization of both biogas production and upgrading in order to allow the full exploitation of this renewable energy source. The large number of biomethane contaminants present in biogas (CO2, H2S, H2O, N2, O2, methyl siloxanes, halocarbons) has resulted in complex sequences of upgrading processes based on conventional physical/chemical technologies capable of providing CH4 purities of 88–98 % and H2S, halocarbons and methyl siloxane removals >99 %. Unfortunately, the high consumption of energy and chemicals limits nowadays the environmental and economic sustainability of conventional biogas upgrading technologies. In this context, biotechnologies can offer a low cost and environmentally friendly alternative to physical/chemical biogas upgrading. Thus, biotechnologies such as H2-based chemoautrophic CO2 bioconversion to CH4, microalgae-based CO2 fixation, enzymatic CO2 dissolution, fermentative CO2 reduction and digestion with in situ CO2 desorption have consistently shown CO2 removals of 80–100 % and CH4 purities of 88–100 %, while allowing the conversion of CO2 into valuable bio-products and even a simultaneous H2S removal. Likewise, H2S removals >99 % are typically reported in aerobic and anoxic biotrickling filters, algal-bacterial photobioreactors and digesters under microaerophilic conditions. Even, methyl siloxanes and halocarbons are potentially subject to aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation. However, despite these promising results, most biotechnologies still require further optimization and scale-up in order to compete with their physical/chemical counterparts. This review critically presents and discusses the state of the art of biogas upgrading technologies with special emphasis on biotechnologies for CO2, H2S, siloxane and halocarbon removal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-759
Number of pages33
JournalReviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomethane
  • Biotechnologies
  • Carbon dioxide removal
  • Hydrogen sulfide removal
  • Siloxane removal
  • Trace biogas contaminants


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