What is biogas?

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Biogas

Biogas is a renewable and sustainable energy source that is produced through the analysis of organic matter such as food waste, animal manure, agricultural waste, and sewage in the absence of oxygen. This process is called anaerobic digestion, (AD) and is carried out by microorganisms, primarily bacteria, that break down the organic matter into a gas mixture of methane, carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases.

The methane in the gas is the primary component that makes it a valuable source of energy. It can be used as a fuel for heating, electricity generation, and transportation. Biogas is a clean-burning fuel that produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels, and it can also be used to replace traditional fuels in cooking and lighting too.

The production of biogas has several environmental benefits, including reducing the amount of organic waste sent to landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and providing a renewable energy source.

The content of biogas

Biogas is primarily composed of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), although it can also contain small amounts of other gases such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S), nitrogen (N2), and water vapor (H2O). The exact composition of biogas depends on the type of organic material being used, as well as the conditions under which the anaerobic digestion process is carried out.

Biogas contains basically between 50 % to 70 % methane and 30 % to 50 % carbon dioxide, although this can vary depending on the specific feedstock used in the anaerobic digestion process. Higher methane concentrations are preferable for optimal combustion and energy production. Biogas produced from animal manure and agricultural waste tends to have a lower methane content than producing it from food waste or sewage. FimusKraft Bioenergy Plant produces atleast 32 kW of electricity and 56 kW of heat in a product line with a daily capacity of 5 tons of biowaste per day.  

The presence of hydrogen sulfide in biogas is a concern because it is a toxic gas that can corrode equipment and pipelines. In addition, nitrogen can reduce the energy content of biogas and increase the risk of engine damage. To make the gas usable as a fuel, it is often necessary to remove these impurities through a process called upgrading, which involves removing the carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and other contaminants to produce a cleaner, higher-quality gas.

The content of biogas can be measured using a variety of techniques, for example gas chromatography and infrared spectroscopy. Gas chromatography is a technique that separates the different components of a gas mixture and measures their concentration, while infrared spectroscopy measures the absorption of infrared radiation by the gas molecules to determine their composition.

Applications

Biogas can be utilized in many ways, depending on the needs of the user and the quality of the gas. It is important to first assess the quality of the gas and determine what, if any, treatment or upgrading is needed to make it usable. Basically upgrading means removing impurities such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and moisture to produce a cleaner, higher-quality gas. Once the gas has been treated, it can be used in the needed application, either directly or after being converted to a different form such as electricity or liquid fuel.

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Some common ways to utilize biogas:

Electricity generation. Biogas can be burned in a generator to produce electricity. This is a common small scale use for the gas, particularly in rural areas where grid electricity is unavailable or unreliable.

Heating and cooling. Biogas can be used as a fuel for space heating, water heating, and cooling. Also the gas can be used in place of natural gas for these applications.

Cooking. Biogas can be used as a fuel for cooking, either in stoves specifically designed for the gas or by converting traditional stoves to use it.

Transportation. Biogas can be used as a fuel for vehicles, either by compressing the gas into cylinders for use in compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles or by converting the gas to liquid biogas (LBG) for use in liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles.

Fertilizer production. The solid and liquid byproducts of anaerobic digestion (AD), called digestate, can be used as a fertilizer for crops, which can help to reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers.

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