Is Biogas the Future of energy?
Is Biogas the savior planet earth has been waiting for in a bid to fight climate change and global warming? Is it the future of energy production? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the global temperatures have risen by o.8 degrees Celsius in one hundred years; 2020 is the second warmest year. It might not appear so significant, but this rise has affected the world tremendously. We are, however, seeking to see planet earth’s recovery. Is Biogas an avenue to achieving that?
What is Biogas?
Biogas is a gas produced by a biological process where organic matter decomposes in a moist oxygen-free airtight environment. When these materials break down, methane (CH4), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Carbon (iv) Oxide (CO2), and traces of Nitrogen gas. When generated appropriately, it can be used as fuel for heating and electricity. Biogas becomes flammable when the methane level exceeds 60%.
Steps of Biogas Production
Biogas production involves five significant steps.
1. Pretreatment of raw materials
After gathering raw materials, it is vital to ensure they are clean of any toxic materials. When using industrial wastewater, or agro-industrial waste products as your raw materials, ensure they are treated first. For example, in treating wastewater, one could apply chemical pretreatment methods such as Preozonization, Prechlorination, or adsorption. One should consider treatment to avoid contamination that may hinder the end product. This is because the bacteria involved work best in neutral environments, affecting biogas production optimization.
2. Anaerobic Digestion
This is the stage where the materials break down in the absence of oxygen through various reactions. To ensure optimal results in this stage, provide the conditions are right; temperature and unavailability of oxygen and efficient equipment such as good quality or a gas dome.
3. Biogas Purification
This is key in ensuring clean, and human-friendly energy is released to the environment. Biogas is run through amines that capture carbon(iv) oxide and hydrogen sulfide.
4. Biogas Utilization
At this stage, one can utilize the Biogas produced in various ways. It can be used as:
- Small-scale cooking gas, if made for domestic use
- The energy on the farm
- Source of industrial energy when made in a biogas membrane and large quantities
- It can be used as vehicle fuel
How eco-friendly and Sustainable is Biogas?
Biogas could be an approach towards achieving the 11th, 12th, and 13th sustainable development goals. Biogas utilizes organic waste products that would otherwise be accumulated into landfills. It is beneficial in the following ways:
1. Green source of energy/fuel
Approximately seventy percent of the world population, especially in developing countries, rely on Carbon (firewood, charcoal) as a fuel source. Burning fossil fuels is the most significant contributor to climate change and global warming. On the other hand, biogas production offers a more friendly outlet of carbon dioxide in the second stage of biogas production. It is high time the world gave trees a breather!
2. Sustainable waste disposal
Improper disposal of organic matter such as food remains is a menace and contributes significantly to the production of greenhouse gasses. Decomposition takes the same anaerobic process and releases the likes of sulfur dioxide and methane directly into the environment. Biogas plants ensure these gasses are put into proper use that does not harm the environment.
3. Applicable by-products
One by-product of this process is slurry. The slurry produced herein is safe and can be used as a fertilizer or soil conditioner given its water content. It is, therefore, more effective than compost manure as plants readily absorb it.
Biogas is the future of energy. With time, if proper resources and research are invested in biogas generation and utilization, we will be a step ahead towards reclaiming planet earth.