A Guide to Biogas & It’s Uses
With the climate issues that we are now facing, more of the world than ever is looking for renewable sources of energy. Biogas is actually one form of technology that could provide a powerful solution to many problems in a clean and efficient way.
Biogas is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, alongside water and other trace gases, and is formed from the natural degradation process of biomass through anaerobic digestion. It can include all sorts of waste and by-products and can then be converted into electricity and heat, whilst remaining waste is turned into a form of organic fertiliser.
The production of biogas actually began hundreds of years ago, but it was not until the 1980s that European countries began using the process for the treatment of industrial wastewater. In the 1990s its potential energy contribution was finally recognised, and it is now the third fastest growing renewable energy source in the world.
How Biogas is Produced
The production of biogas is a multistep process where organic wastes which can be either liquid or solid are transformed into low molecular weight products during the anaerobic digestion process.
The organic wastes could be any thing from animal manure to food scraps, fats and oils, industrial organic residues and even sewage sludge. During the anaerobic digestion process, bacteria begin to break down the waste without oxygen.
As they do this, they give off biogas, which then rises to the top of the digester, whilst the solid content falls to the bottom and can be extracted and used as fertiliser, animal bedding or flowerpots to name just a few options.
The waste that is used needs to be properly prepared to ensure it is completely organic, which can involve removing things such as plastic packaging. The micro bacteria need to be well nourished in order for them to complete their task effectively, and so ingredients such as manure can sometimes be added. This helps to maximise the energy that is recovered.
The biogas is then used to fuel a combined heat and power plant, and any excess biogas is then cleaned of impurities to create biomethane which can be used to supply households through the national gas grid.
Advantages of Biogas
The use of biogas is rising in popularity because it is a very effective renewable and sustainable energy source. It is a clean source of energy as the gas that is generated is non-polluting and actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions thanks to the fact that no combustion is used during its production.
Not only is the production of biogas good for the environment, but it also makes use of waste products which in turn can reduce the pollution of soil and water sources. It is a low-cost solution both to energy production and waste management, meaning that there can be some huge economic benefits to making use of it.
The anaerobic has been popular for years as it is something which can be done on the smallest scale, with some biodigesters being used in domestic settings using kitchen waste whilst farms have made use of the animal waste products that are produced every day. Now that the benefits of biogas have been recognised, this is being upscaled into much bigger plants allowing large scale production that can be fed directly into the energy grid.
Applications of Biogas
The popularity of biogas has come from the wide-ranging ways in which it can be used. It is most commonly required for electricity and heat generation, but it has some other great uses too.
As it produces a form of gas, special biogas stoves have now been made to allow people to cook using it. This produces the lowest level of greenhouse gas emissions compared to other fuel combustion whilst also being low cost for those who use it.
It has also been found that when biogas is compressed, it can be used as an effective fuel for vehicle transportation. It has already been put to good use in Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany for trains, and it can be very efficient for fleets of trucks.
During the anaerobic digestion process, some material, known as the digestate, is left behind. This wet mixture tends to be rich in nutrients and so has been found to be an extremely effective as an organic fertiliser which can be used on gardens or in agriculture.
As biogas technology develops, more and more uses are being found for it, and there are possibilities that it can even be used in specially designed fuel cells. If it is cleaned adequately by removing carbon dioxide, water, and other trace elements, it can be injected into gas pipelines and through catalytic chemical oxidation, the methane can be used to produce methanol.
Whilst the basic theory of creating biogas is the same, the process can vary according to the technology being used. There are stand-alone digesters which operate as organic recycling businesses in community settings or farm digesters which help farmers manage nutrients, reduce odours, and generate additional farm revenue. There are also digesters at water resource recovery facilities which are used to clean the water and recover nutrients.
As with anything, biogas production plants of any size will need regular maintenance to keep them running efficiently, as oil will need to be changed and debris from organic matter will need to be removed.
Future of Biogas
The future of biogas looks to be massive as it provides combined solutions to many of the world’s biggest problems. Biogas has a massive potential for growth as it can be widely used as a local source of renewable power and heat almost anywhere in the world, helping to keep up with the demand for energy even in the poorest nations due to the fact that the feedstocks are readily available and low in cost.
For this to happen there will need to be substantial policy and regulatory support in order to provide the investment that the sector needs to make it widely accessible. This will mean that technology can develop further to create fuel cells and vehicle transportation, which is powered by biogas, making it one of the cleanest and most efficient fuels in almost every walk of life.
The potential for the use of biogas around the world should not be underestimated. It is clean, organic and can be adapted to a wide variety of settings and economies, meaning that adopting it can be done on any scale and in any location.
Click! systems in the process of Biogas
In the guide of Biogas and its uses, the Gas Data Click! range emerges as a valuable tool to maximise productivity. These innovative systems offer precise monitoring and analysis of biogas composition, enabling operators to optimise the process for enhanced productivity. By continuously tracking gas parameters, such as methane content and impurities, the Click! systems help maintain ideal conditions for efficient biogas production. This ensures that the biogas generated meets quality standards and be utilised in various applications, including power generation.
The Click! range empowers biogas plant operators with real-time data and insights, allowing them to make informed decisions, identify potential issues, and implement timely adjustments to maximise the overall productivity of the biogas plant.