Days 4-6, May 22, 23, 24 – Brandon

Day 4 – Tuesday, May 22nd

This morning, Maximilian Englebrecht, Director of Marketing for ROPA, gave us a tour of their sugar beet harvester plant in Sittelsdorf, Germany. There, in a town of only 47 people, 250 employees produce the Tiger, a 3-axle sugar beet harvester, and the Maus, a sugar beet cleaner and loader.

Maximilian showing us the 540 HP                                engine used in the Tiger

On the tour, Maximilian showed us the assembly hall where a 604 HP Mercedes Benz V8 diesel engine is put in Tiger sugar beet harvesters (1).We also saw ROPA’s parts and harvester inventory. They built a small tent for temporary storage and were in the process of a plant expansion. At the back of their site, there was a 150 kW upflow-downflow anaerobic digester.  It provides some electricity on-site and the compost is used on farms near the facility.

Tiger inventory with the upflow-downflow reactor in the background

The company showed a lot of trust in its employees and it was easy to see that they were proud to work there. They were extremely kind and served us a very large German lunch.

In the afternoon, we visited the first Nazi concentration camp, Dachau. The gate at the front of the camp said “arbeit macht frei” which translates into “work brings freedom.”

Entrance to Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau Memorial

I learned that many Jews died at this camp due to illness and the conditions kept getting worse until the American liberators came. The size of Dachau was overwhelming and left somber feelings with most visitors.


  1. ROPA. Web. 22 May 2012. <

Day 5 – Wednesday, May 23rd

Today, we visited UTS Biogas in Hallbergmoos, Germany. They showed us a digester they designed that was running on dry feedstock. It used corn silage, grass from the Munich airport, and potatoes as feedstocks.

Dry feedstock being loaded into a UTS digester

Pictured here, our instructors Dr. Luke Reese and Dr. Dana Kirk pose inside the technical room.

We discussed the advantages of hydraulic mixers over electric mixers and saw their service-box that allowed for safe and easy access to the mixer for maintenance. The technical room that controlled the reactor operations featured a grated floor to protect the electronics operating above from water damage.

Michigan State University’s anaerobic digester will be designed by UTS. After touring their digesters, we had a meeting and learned more about their technology. We wanted to learn more about biogas upgrading and UTS gladly went into detail on several processes for upgrading biogas.

Day 6 – Thursday, May 24th

We visited the Munich Zoo today. They were the first zoo to use anaerobic digestion to manage their waste. Using three box digesters, they produce biogas from their animal and grassy waste. The waste is digested for four weeks and contains two parts old material and one part new. The zoo uses more energy than it generates in this process so there is still room for improvement.

Munich Zoo Box Digesters

After that, we said farewell to Dana at the Frankfurt Airport and flew to Stockholm to meet Dr. Hodge and begin another leg of our journey.



Munich, the capital of the Germany state of Bavaria, is a historic and technological city. During our first full day in Munich, we will have the opportunity to visit some of the city’s attractions.

Historic attractions include St. Peter’s Church which is at the site of Munich’s oldest church. It is located near Munich’s famous city square, Marienplatz.

Modern attractions include BMW Welt and Olympiapark, which hosted the 1972 Summer Olympic Games.

Another attraction is the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest science and technology museum. It is located on an island in the River Isar that runs through Munich. We may visit the Englischer Garten, a large city park even bigger than New York’s Central Park. There, we can enjoy a traditional Bavarian weisswurst (white sausage).

The next day we will visit UTS Residual in Hallbergmoos, Germany. We will learn about biogas production there. Our last day in Munich will end with a visit to the Munich Zoo. We will fly to Stockholm that afternoon.


3 responses to “Days 4-6, May 22, 23, 24 – Brandon

  1. My emotional reaction to the Dachau concentration camp.

    The darkness permeates and slithers into every crawling pour of emotions writhing through my skull as crossed bones grimace wildly in their frantic seizures
    Echoes of silent screams stand at attention as twisted skeletons cave into dark dampness, muted dream must lingers and contorts into rusty terror faces on pain textured windows
    Chalk outlined skin creme-ations stutter painfully over mutilated shadows cast by emaciated light frames crumbling in evil echo darkness

  2. Out of all the anaerobic digesters the one that was the most different was the one from the Munich Zoo, since it was built in a box shape and didn’t rotate their mixture but all it to stay still with a spray every hour. It differently was a unique take on anaerobic digesters especially after all the earlier digester that were seen followed a pretty steady pattern of mixtures then storage, both which the Munich Zoo lacked. This technique seems to work for them as it fits their need and seems to give them the energy they wanted, but I can’t help but wonder how this technique compares to the other anaerobic digesters we saw.
    The UTS lecture on different ways of upgrading biogas into natural gas was also very interesting. Especially since it seems to be a growing area, and more anaerobic digester may end up changing their biogas into natural gas. It was interesting to see how many different techniques there are to accomplish this task as well as how many different companies choose to use different techniques. This type of technology is an area that will keep going.

  3. It was great to get a tour and presentation from the company that was selected to build a digester on MSU’s campus! I’m definitely glad to see the University take a big step into renewable and sustainable energy with UTS as a partner. As other comments have suggested, it was very interesting to hear the company’s perspective on the technologically diverse field of biogas upgrading. Perhaps the MSU digester will eventually add a gas upgrading sysytem, so that the biogas produced can either be sold to the grid or burned in the gas turbine unit already operating at the Simon Power station.

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