Biogas typically refers to a gas produced by breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Organic waste such as dead plant and animal material, animal feces, and kitchen waste can be converted into a gaseous fuel called biogas. Biogas originates from biogenic material and is a type of bio fuel.
Biogas is produced by the anaerobic digestion or fermentation of biodegradable materials such as biomass, manure, sewage,municipal waste, green waste, plant material, and crops. Biogas comprises primarily methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) and may have small amounts of hydrogen sulphide (H2S), moisture and siloxanes.
The gases methane, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide (CO) can be combusted or oxidized with oxygen. This energy release allows biogas to be used as a fuel. Biogas can be used as a fuel in any country for any heating purpose, such as cooking. It can also be used in anaerobic digesters where it is typically used in a gas engine to convert the energy in the gas into electricity and heat. Biogas can be compressed, much like natural gas, and used to power motor vehicles. In the UK, for example, biogas is estimated to have the potential to replace around 17% of vehicle fuel. Biogas is a renewable fuel, so it qualifies for renewable energy subsidies in some parts of the world. Biogas can also be cleaned and upgraded to natural gas standards when it becomes bio methane.
Bio gas is practically produced as landfill gas (LFG) or digested gas. A bio gas plant is the name often given to an anaerobic digester that treats farm wastes or energy crops. Bio gas can be produced using anaerobic digesters. These plants can be fed with energy crops such as maize silage or biodegradable wastes including sewage sludge and food waste. During the process, as an air-tight tank transforms biomass waste into methane producing renewable energy that can be used for heating, electricity, and many other operations that use any variation of an internal combustion engine, such as GE Backbencher gas engines. There are two key processes:Mesolithic and Thermophilic digestion. In experimental work at University of Alaska Fairbanks, a 1000-litre digester using psychrophiles harvested from "mud from a frozen lake in Alaska" has produced 200–300 liters of methane per day, about 20–30% of the output from digesters in warmer climates.
Landfill gas is produced by wet organic waste decomposing under anaerobic conditions in a landfill. The waste is covered and mechanically compressed by the weight of the material that is deposited from above. This material prevents oxygen exposure thus allowing anaerobic microbes to thrive. This gas builds up and is slowly released into the atmosphere if the landfill site has not been engineered to capture the gas. Landfill gas is hazardous for three key reasons. Landfill gas becomes explosive when it escapes from the landfill and mixes with oxygen. The lower explosive limit is 5% methane and the upper explosive limit is 15% methane. The methane contained within biogas is 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than is carbon dioxide. Therefore, uncontained landfill gas, which escapes into the atmosphere may significantly contribute to the effects of global warming. In addition, landfill gas impact in global warming, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contained within landfill gas contribute to the formation of photochemical smog.
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