Biogas is a combination of gases rich in methane that is produced when organic matter breaks down in a closed system without the presence of oxygen. These gases can then be processed and used as fuel to power vehicles, facilities, and communities—renewably.
By integrating biogas into our energy infrastructure, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also combating the global water and landfill crises.
How can biogas power our communities more sustainably?
Biogas is primarily produced through anaerobic digestion. When organic matter is put through this process, it is broken down by bacteria and separated into two components: biogas and digestate. The remaining digestate can be used for things like fertilizer and soil amendments, while the biogas can be used as an energy source.
How is it made?
Biogas can be used in a couple key ways after the anaerobic digestion process has completed. We can directly use the biogas to generate heat and electricity with a combined heat and power plant, but we can also further refine the biogas into biomethane—or renewable natural gas (RNG).
How is it used?
Agricultural waste from farms can include livestock waste like manure or harvest waste from poor-performing crops.
Biogas can be produced from many kinds of organic matter.
Green waste is biodegradable waste from grass, plants, and trees such as yard trimmings, weeds, bark, and tree branches.
Organic residuals captured by wastewater treatment plants that includes human waste and other recoverable organic matter like toilet paper.
More commonly known as garbage, municipal waste can include organic matter like leftover food, paper, and other biodegradable materials.
Biogas can be used to generate electricity that can directly power operations like lights, HVAC units, and electric valves.
Biogas can be used to create steam that can directly heat facilities or other areas of operations while reducing the amount of wasted thermal energy.
RNG can be used to supplement energy to the local grid, powering our communities in a more sustainable way.
RNG can be used as fuel to power vehicles such as personal cars, fleet vehicles like buses, and even rail.
If we understand that we can harvest renewable energy to help power our communities, we may be more inclined to improve our wastewater treatment facilities—or, in some instances, start developing one. Recovering the organic matter from our wastewater not only helps to fuel our energy supply, but it enhances water recovery while reducing waste at landfills.
Biogas and wastewater
More than half of biogas producers in the US are involved in water resource recovery. Obviously, we want to recover any valuable matter that we possibly can out of wastewater to use it in ways like biogas. But it’s also about managing our water resources more responsibly as we combat climate change and water shortages around the world.
There is huge potential for biogas production at wastewater facilities, and knowing that biogas can help power their operations, it should be an enticing option.
Biogas is important for a couple of key reasons. Yes, it supplements our energy infrastructure in a more sustainable way. But it’s also about reducing waste and getting the most value out of our resources. Not only does biogas production curtail the amount of physical waste at landfills, but it also helps us realize the benefits of maximizing water resource recovery. This has become more critical as the world faces global water and landfill crises.
Why is biogas so important?
By dru whitlock and wicus postma