Potential Sources of Biogas and Main Uses of Biogas
November 19, 2020 Welcome
In recent years, there has been a slow but steady shift towards the integration of renewable energy in powering homes, businesses, and industries. Among the top sources of renewable energy is biogas, a fuel fast gaining prominence as a leading resource for domestic and commercial power generation.
Consider how biogas is sourced, as well as its applications in powering diverse business endeavors in the U.S.
What Is Biogas?
Biogas (also called renewable natural gas) refers to the useful gaseous products of the degradation of organic plant and animal wastes, and other sources of degradable carbon compounds like paper and wood.
Biogas bears a lot of similarities to natural gas. When their chemical compositions are considered, the duration of processing and method of generation differs. Whereas biogas is synthesized via a manmade process occurring within weeks to months, natural gas is slowly formed over millennia when dead plant and animal materials are subjected to intense temperatures and pressures within the earth’s crust.
What Does Biogas Consist of?
Biogas composition is primarily methane gas with varying fractions of other gases including:
- Carbon dioxide
- Hydrogen sulfide
Depending on the process used for biogas generation, the biogas energy content (primarily methane) will vary slightly. For a landfill digester gas production system, the generated biogas is typically around 50% methane gas whereas an advanced waste treatment plant will produce biogas with a much higher methane content (55-75%).
Biogas vs. Fossil Fuels – Can Biogas Replace Natural Gas?
More countries are investing in renewable energy for their power generation needs. While natural gas remains the major source of energy globally, biogas is rapidly closing the gap.
Renewable energy growth has surged significantly in China, Europe, and the US. However, present data suggest that biogas alone cannot replace natural gas unless it is combined with other sources of renewable energy like wind and solar power.
How Is Biogas Used to Generate Electricity?
A biogas engine can generate electricity by burning biofuel derived from organic matter. Burning biofuel generates steam which turns a turbine attached to a generator that creates electricity. This carbon neutral technique is a highly efficient and sustainable means of electricity generation that can be easily integrated into already existing power generation plants.
Sources of Biogas Production
Useful quantities of biogas can be generated from the following sources:
- Livestock waste
- Landfill gas (LFG)
- Activated sludge from wastewater treatment plants
- Industrial, institutional and commercial waste (IIC)
Livestock wastes constitute the most used substrate for biogas generation. Manure from poultry, cattle, and pigs are all good examples of this waste. This organic matter can be subjected to controlled decomposition to yield good quantities of biomethane.
This energy generation method uses accumulated wastes from domestic activities to develop biogas. Landfills are filled with suitable organic materials that decompose producing biogas that are modified and supplied to different processes.
Activated Sludge from Waste Treatment Plants
Sludge derived from wastewater purification is usually rich in organic materials thus forming a rich substrate for biogas generation. Once wastewater has been filtered out, activated sludge residue in the treatment plant can be channeled to specialized decomposition chambers where they generate methane.
Industrial, Institutional and Commercial Wastes
Many industrial manufacturing processes use organic raw materials in their production cycles. For example, food and beverage manufacturing companies use food materials that generate huge amounts of organic wastes. Biogas generation plants can harness these materials, allowing controlled decomposition to yield renewable energy.
Main Uses of Biogas
Biogas has diverse applications in domestic and industrial energy sectors. The most common examples of how biogas is used are listed below.
- Domestic and industrial heating
- Electricity generation
- Transport fuel
- Biogas for fuel cells
- Chemical manufacturing
States with the Highest Potential for Biogas Fuel Production
Across the US, investments in renewable energy are on the rise. This positive development can be largely attributed to active legislation and policies. To cite an example, the Renewable Fuel Standard program by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mandates that energy manufacturers integrate a certain amount of renewable natural gas in their total output.
While the rules are all-encompassing, statistics across the states vary when the potential for biogas fuel production is considered. Recent forecasts for biomethane production consider California as the state with the highest potential for renewable energy generation from the four key sources earlier described in this article.
Another projected key player in biogas manufacturing is Texas which is listed as the state with the 2nd highest biogas generation potential with North Carolina, Illinois, and Ohio completing the top five.
IFS Has Solutions for Your Renewable Energy Sector Needs
At Integrated Flow Solutions, we remain committed to providing our clients with effective solutions for all their renewable energy sector needs. IFS offers high-quality gas conditioning systems optimized for biogas processing plants.
Contact the IFS team online today to learn more about the full range of industrial solutions we offer.