Biogas is a renewable fuel produced by the breakdown of natural matter such as meals scraps and animal waste. It can be used in a wide range of ways together with as vehicle fuel and for heating and electricity generation. Read on to be taught more.
What is biogas? How is biogas produced?
Biogas is an environmentally-friendly, renewable energy source.
It’s produced when natural matter, akin to meals or animal waste, is broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen, in a process called anaerobic digestion. For this to take place, the waste material needs to be enclosed in an atmosphere the place there isn’t any oxygen.
It could happen naturally or as part of an industrial process to intentionally create biogas as a fuel.
What kind of waste can be used to produce biogas?
A wide number of waste material breaks down into biogas, including animal manure, municipal rubbish/ waste, plant materials, meals waste or sewage.
Which gases does biogas comprise?
Biogas consists mainly of methane and carbon dioxide. It may possibly also embody small amounts of hydrogen sulphide, siloxanes and a few moisture. The relative quantities of these fluctuate depending on the type of waste concerned in the production of the ensuing biogas.
What can biogas be used for?
To fuel vehicles – if biogas is compressed it can be utilized as a vehicle fuel.
As a replacement for natural gas – if biogas is cleaned up and upgraded to natural gas standards, it’s then known as biomethane and can be used in a similar way to methane; this can include for cooking and heating.
Biogas: 6 fascinating facts
1. Biogas is a gas of many names
Biogas is most commonly additionally known as biomethane. It’s additionally typically called marsh gas, sewer gas, compost gas and swamp gas in the US.
Biogas is a naturally occurring and renewable supply of energy, ensuing from the breakdown of natural matter. Biogas is to not be confused with ‘natural’ gas, which is a non-renewable supply of power.
2. Biogas and biomass: similarities and differences
Biomass and biogas are both biofuels; they can be burnt to produce energy. However biomass is the solid, natural material. Biomass has been used as an energy source since people first discovered fire and burnt wood, plants and animal dung to create energy.
In the present day, many energy stations run by burning a biomass of compressed wood pellets – a by-product of timber and furniture-making. By changing fossil-fuel coal, biomass enables renewable electricity to be produced.
3. Biogas will not be a new discovery
The anaerobic process of decomposition (or fermentation) of natural matter has been happening in nature for millions of years, even earlier than fossil fuels, and continues to occur all around us in the natural world. As we speak’s industrial conversion of organic waste into energy in biogas plants is just fast-forwarding nature’s ability to recycle its useful resources.
The primary human use of biogas is believed so far back to 3,000BC within the Middle East, when the Assyrians used biogas to heat their baths.
A seventeenth century chemist, Jan Baptist van Helmont, discovered that flammable gases may come from decaying organic matter. Van Helmont can also be liable for bringing the word ‘gas’, from the Greek word chaos, into the science vocabulary.
The primary large anaerobic digestion plant dates back to 1859 in a leper colony in Bombay.
An creative Victorian engineer, John Webb from Birmingham, created the Sewage Lamp, which converted sewage into biogas to light street lamps. The only remaining Webb Sewer Lamp in London is now just off The Strand in Carting Lane – or as some wags would have it, Farting Lane.
Anaerobic digestion was used as a way to treat municipal wastewater, before chemical treatments. In the developing world the anaerobic process is still recognised as an inexpensive, natural alternative to chemicals and the reduction of dysentery bacteria.
And let’s not neglect that in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome the publish-apocalyptic settlement Bartertown, run by Tina Turner’s terrifying Aunty Entity, is powered by a pig-farm biogas system with biogas used to energy the desert-chasing vehicles.
4. In the present day China leads the world in the use of biogas
China has the biggest number of biogas plants, with an estimated 50 million households using biogas. These are largely in rural areas and small-scale house and village plants.