Stercore Hans Janen Richard Kusters

Nature as a guide: STERCORE’s future-oriented innovation

In the Netherlands, many people work passionately with biomass as a raw material. They work on innovations, improve (production) processes or create policy for a fossil-free future. We have had a series of conversations with people who work at companies where bio raw materials are central. In this mini-series we highlight what drives them to work on the transition to a sustainable world. First a conversation with Hans Jansen from STERCORE.

“Nature shows what is possible and you should focus on that!” This statement perfectly reflects the vision of Hans Jansen, one of the driving forces behind STERCORE, in his search for a (artificial) fertilizer product that is beneficial for both plants and the planet. STERCORE, derived from the Latin word for manure, emphasizes Hans’ belief in harnessing the power of animal fertilizers for a greater good. As a seasoned expert in the world of fertilizers, he has closely studied the impact of current synthetic fertilizers on soil, water and plants. Convinced that there had to be a better way, Hans strongly believes that rethinking the value of animal manure is essential for soil recovery and healthier plants. This view is particularly relevant given the alarming rate at which we currently waste animal manure.

“Nature shows what is possible and you should focus on that!”

After years of exploring and innovating, Hans and his partner Richard Kusters have now unveiled a groundbreaking solution that, in addition to the high-quality, organic fertilizer and soil improver Bio-Based Carbon (=Biochar = carbon), also produces green gas and liquid CO2, without further waste flows. This versatile value creation enables STERCORE to develop a sustainable revenue model without emissions. Is this the “fertilizer factory” of the future? With the planned construction of a revolutionary factory next year, Hans’ motto remains unchanged: “Always think twice before you take action, during the action, and again afterwards!” Hans and Richard crossed paths in the world of fertilizers, where Richard’s technical expertise matched perfectly with Hans’ commercial insight. While traditional fertilizer manufacturers often shy away from organic material, Hans saw a growing demand for this among his customers. After both left an organic fertilizer manufacturer, Hans and Richard further developed their vision. By combining the technical innovations with the opportunities that both saw, they quickly realized that they had a promising company on their hands. Hans explains: “The current fertilizer and crop protection methods are under heavy social pressure. But if you don’t want to use it or are no longer allowed to use it, you need an alternative to prevent significant harvest loss. The product that we will produce with STERCORE is an excellent alternative. In addition to fertilizer, our product acts as a soil improver, resulting in healthier soil, resulting in less fertilizer use and less need for pesticides and healthier crops. Livestock farmers are also satisfied, because they can now dispose of their excess manure responsibly and sustainably, and we turn it into a product that improves their soil. A real win-win situation for everyone.”

The proces

The raw manure undergoes a drying process, during which virtually all ammonia (nitrogen) is removed. The nitrogen-containing drainage water that results from this can be used as a nitrogen fertilizer substitute or can be added to the end product Bio-Based Carbon. The released CO2 is captured and converted into a liquid form, suitable for greenhouse horticulture.

The wastewater is thoroughly cleaned and reused, without leaving any residual flows or waste flows behind, making the entire process completely circular. The carbon released during gasification is therefore marketed as high-quality fertilizer.

The gas that is produced is Bio-syngas, which is further upgraded into green gas. Green gas is a collective term for upgraded biogas that meets the quality standards of natural gas and can be injected into the natural gas network. Biogas is any type of gas that is created by biological enzymatic processes, originating from biomass. It has a different composition and quality than natural gas and cannot be injected directly into the natural gas network. In order to use biogas in households, it must be upgraded to green gas, which has the same composition and smell as natural gas.

Hans and Richard’s journey illustrates how nature’s wisdom can guide innovative minds to solutions that benefit both humanity and the environment. By rethinking the potential of animal waste, they are leading us to a future where agriculture and sustainability go hand in hand. In their pursuit of healthier soils and plants, they have been inspired by the complex dance of nature, reminding us that the path to progress often lies in harnessing the wisdom of the natural world.


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STERCORE maquette overview
Press release

STERCORE has been fully vindicated by the Council of State

STERCORE can start construction of their Bio-Based Carbon factory. The Council of State has declared Milieudefensie’s appeal against the construction of the STERCORE factory completely unfounded. STERCORE’s permit is therefore irrevocable, and STERCORE can now prepare to build its first green gas and Bio-Based Carbon factory in Emmen.

The installation will produce approximately 23 million M3 of green gas (739 TJ energy) annually, which corresponds to the gas consumption of approximately 21,000 households. The STERCORE green gas and Bio-Based Carbon factory is also operated without SDE subsidy.

Reduction of manure surplus

Bio-Based Carbon is produced sustainably and circularly from raw materials from animal manure and digestate. Bio-Based Carbon from co-fermentation is the ultimate organic fertilizer and soil improver and greatly reduces the use of artificial fertilizers and crop protection products. Bio-Based Carbon also qualifies for “end-waste status”; the only product derived from animal manure in the Netherlands. Furthermore, the Bio-Based Carbon contributes to CO2 storage in the soil and the ‘Carbon Farming’ principle.

CO2 Reduction

STERCORE has had a very detailed LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) drawn up to demonstrate its own climate impact. The most important outcome from the LCA is that a STERCORE factory has an annual avoided CO2 eq. of 225,000–345,000 tons of CO2. Furthermore, no waste flows are released during the process. So with this, STERCORE contributes to up to a 10% reduction in the total CO2 emissions of the Province of Drenthe in 2019. The 30,000 tons of CO2 released directly from the process is captured and upgraded to food quality; This makes it suitable for use in greenhouse horticulture, cooling products and for future applications for which CO2 from natural gas is currently used. The heat released (approx. 5 MW per hour/70°C) can also be used externally for, for example, district heating, low-temperature drying of products and heating water for cleaning work.

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Drenthe province signs Green Energy Agreement with STERCORE

Drenthe Provincial Executive member Mr. Tjisse Stelpstra signs "Green Energy Agreement" with STERCORE for the first completely circular green gas plant according to the STERCORE process. 

Monday 6 November 2017, in the presence of all project partners, the "Green Energy Agreement" between the Province of Drenthe and STERCORE BV from Hoogeveen was officially signed.

The Province of Drenthe is providing a contribution of € 188,706 to STERCORE for carrying out a feasibility study (costs: € 471,000) into the production of Green Gas from, among others, manure and digestate (fermented biomass).

The plant consists of a number of proven innovative technologies that are cleverly linked. The entire process takes place indoors and under fully controlled conditions. Using the most modern industrial techniques, there is no odour nuisance for the environment.

A unique concept: manure is completely taken out of the manure market and two high-quality end products are produced. No residue or waste. The end products are Green Gas and high-quality Bio-Based Carbon. This can be sold at home and abroad as organic "fertiliser", soil improver, supplementary potting soils and compost improver, among other things. Due to the production process, the carbon is not animal manure according to the legislation.

Interesting facts per local Green Gas plant: Annual production of 20 million m3 Green Gas, reduction of 30 million kilo C02, 185.000 Mton manure from the manure market and more than 4.5 million kilo phosphate from Dutch agriculture!

ondertekenaars groene fabriek

PHOTO: from left to right: Sander Meilof of Recycling Westerveld - Bouke v.d. Velde of Gasunie New Energy - Ben Oudman of DNV-GL - Tjisse Stelpstra, member of the Provincial Executive of Drenthe - Hans Jansen of STERCORE - Tjerk Jansma of EnTrance - Richard Kusters of Solution2Nature - Machiel van Steenis of Energy Valley - Harm Vlap of DNV-GL - Jan Hendrik Annema of Gas Terra and Eddy Veenstra of NV RENDO

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better tomorrow

Article about STERCORE in the trade magazine Grondig

The trade magazine Grondig is a source of news for entrepreneurs and employees in the cumula sector. It offers a fresh look at the sector, people, machines and business. Every day they produce news about agricultural contracting, agricultural engineering, earthmoving, fertiliser distribution, garden, park and (agricultural) construction.

After the completion of the STERCORE trials, Grondig devoted an article to them. Our plans are discussed there, as well as our partnership with Meilof Smilde. They will supply the manure that we will transform into Bio-Based Carbon and green gas in our future factory.

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STERCORE maquette overview
Press release

Press Release: STERCORE gets license for promising Green Gas plant

Converting manure into green gas and Bio-Based Carbon without any harmful emissions. The Drenthe-based company STERCORE B.V. is breaking the deadlock on the nitrogen issue with its innovative techniques. Last Thursday, the Province of Drenthe granted the final permit for the construction of an innovative manure gasification plant in Emmen.

Director Hans Jansen: “Manure is not a problem, it is a solution”.

Good for the climate, good for livestock farmers, good for the vegetable sector, good for our sustainable energy production and good for local employment. The technique developed and put together by Richard Kusters to extract green gas and Bio-Based Carbon from manure without any harmful emissions has many advantages. The technique devised by the technical director of STERCORE seems to be the egg of Columbus in the nitrogen impasse.

Sustainability pioneer

Despite the purely positive effects, the Province of Drenthe did not rush to grant the sustainability pioneer a permit. Why did the permit take so long? Director Hans Jansen: “Our innovative way of working is so new that our initiative cannot be tested. Existing calculation models only used data from fermentation installations and natural gas-fired installations. A sustainable electrical installation simply doesn’t exist yet.”

Final permit

Positive, that was the verdict of the Province of Drenthe after extensive research into the company’s innovative manure processing techniques: on Thursday 6 February 2021, STERCORE received the green light to build the first green gas factory in Emmen. The factory, which will employ around forty people, will run mainly on sustainably generated electrical power and, on the factory’s own initiative, will be equipped with a nitrogen measurement plant.

More sustainable agriculture and horticulture

With its innovative techniques and products, STERCORE is contributing to more sustainable agriculture and horticulture, explains Hans Jansen. “In the medium term, we foresee the manure market changing from a supply market to a demand market. In our business model, we have already calculated that in the future we will have to pay for manure. This is a positive development, which means that manure fraud will disappear and livestock farmers can implement emission-reducing measures on the farm with manure as a new source of income.”

High-quality organic fertiliser substitute

STERCORE also contributes to the sustainability of agriculture and horticulture by producing Bio-Based Carbon on an industrial scale. A high-grade organic fertiliser substitute and soil improver. Jansen: “It is now also feasible for deregulated farmers and horticulturists to opt for sustainable initiatives. For the supply of the manure, STERCORE works closely with contracting firm Meilofin Smilde.

Green gas for 24,000 households

This year, the construction of the first green gas plant in Emmen will start; production will commence after about two years. In the future, over 24,000 households will be able to benefit from the green gas produced by STERCORE. Hans Jansen: “Obtaining the necessary permits recognises that we are making a super-clean contribution to the major challenges. Think of green gas for regional households, less artificial fertiliser and the pure processing of natural minerals. In other words, a benefit for households, cattle farmers and the environment!

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STERCORE maquette overview
Press release

STERCORE hopes to start building Drenthe’s first manure gasifier this spring

STERCORE hopes to be able to put the first shovel in the ground this spring for the construction of a manure gasifier on the Emmtec site in Emmen.

A court case is still pending, but Hans Jansen of STERCORE hopes that a decision will be made this spring. Press release SCREENED BY Rien Kort

Last year in January, Milieudefensie took the matter to court because of the arrival of the manure gasifier. According to Milieudefensie, the nitrogen calculations that were submitted are incorrect. It was expected that the legal wrangling would be settled last autumn. But the case is still ongoing, says Jansen. “The appeal is still before the judge. There have been many delays and postponements. Jansen expects that the case will finally be heard within six weeks. “Everything Milieudefensie has questioned, we can refute,” he says. According to Jansen, the manure gasifier will remain within all norms. The opening of the gasifier in autumn 2022 is therefore still feasible, he says.

First in Drenthe

If given the green light, the manure gasifier would be the first in Drenthe. The initiative involves an investment of 45 million euros. On an annual basis, the plant should process almost two hundred thousand tonnes of dry manure into natural soil improvers and 25 to 30 million cubic metres of green gas. An agreement for the delivery of the manure has already been made with contracting firm Meilof in Smilde, which also arranges the delivery.

Emmtec, households or fuel

Depending on whether STERCORE can get SDE subsidies, the gas will be pumped into the regular grid or the Emmtec site will become a customer. “Should Stercore fail to receive the subsidies, the company will consider converting the gas into a high-grade fuel: Bio-LNG. “We can go anywhere with that product. Every oil and petrol company will benefit from it. Like green gas, this is a market that cannot be saturated.”

Second factory in Hoogeveen

Jansen expects the plant in Emmen to create 35 to 40 jobs. As soon as Emmen is up and running, a second plant will be set up near Hoogeveen. That will create another 25 to 30 jobs, according to Jansen. “We may even open a third plant within five years, but then in the middle of the country. A gasifier is not a manure digester. “Moreover, odour nuisance is not permitted by law in an installation like this. Even if you stand with your nose against the building, you will not smell anything, Jansen says. “The manure is unloaded inside the building. There is nothing outside. So people who live in the neighbourhood will not notice anything.”


The building of the manure gasifier covers an area of 70 by 120 metres. The height is 11 metres. “So we will not be bigger than an average Intratuin. Compared to other buildings on the Emmtec site, it is peanuts.”

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