Can the power grid run on garbage, safely and effectively?
With the mission to revolutionize the world of waste with our new technology, they developed a system which converts food scraps into renewable energy.
Instead of replacing the current waste management system with cleaner and safer processes, as Smithfield has done in states like Missouri, the hog industry and energy utilities have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a different, more profitable waste management system: Biogas. Biological natural gas, often called renewable natural gas, is the result of a refining process in which anaerobic digesters—sealed, oxygen-free tanks designed to break down organic waste—collect methane from hog waste and convert it into natural gas for electricity.
Biogas plants convert natural farm waste into energy – but many use also raw products such as maize, grown especially for energy use.
In growing maize for biogas, the crop that does most damage to the soil is being specifically exempted from the rules.
Biogas is a mixture of methane, CO2 and small quantities of other gases produced by anaerobic digestion of organic matter in an oxygen-free environment. The precise composition of biogas depends on the type of feedstock and the production pathway
Here’s an unlikely starting point for clean energy: No toilets, and plenty of dung.
In developing countries where domestic animals are ubiquitous and sewage systems rare, biogas technology — in this case methane derived from feces — can provide both valuable fuel and improved sanitation.
“It’s essentially the lowest technology on the planet, but it really works well. Long term, it is going to come, and it’s going to be big,” said Chris Somerville, director of the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s very inexpensive.”
Biogas is produced after organic materials (plant and animal products) are broken down by bacteria in an oxygen-free environment, a process called anaerobic digestion. Biogas systems use anaerobic digestion to recycle these organic materials, turning them into biogas, which contains both energy (gas), and valuable soil products (liquids and solids).
Pipeline owners and utilities eye manure, landfills, sewage to burnish environmental credentials.
In an age of worrying climate change and looming fossil energy decline, the benefits of biogas are obvious. It is a renewable energy source with zero net greenhouse emissions. And yet its potential has largely gone untapped, at least in the developed world.
Worldwide, renewable natural gas is dominated by biomethane, which can be generated from organic materials and residues from agriculture, food production and waste processing.
Along with reducing landfill, proponents say using trash as an energy supply also reduces burning fossil fuels extracted from the earth and shipped around the world using even more fossil fuels.
It’s no substitute for shifting to clean electricity.
When manure-to-energy projects are installed on factory farms, the processing of the methane produced for the power grid or for the transportation sector releases CO2 and hazardous air pollutants, and requires the installation of gas pipelines and other infrastructure that leak tremendous volumes of methane. Biomethane production burdens and poisons local communities while degrading our planet's health and sustainability.
Le Thi Vinh used to put up with a smoky kitchen, filled with soot particles formed in her muddy stove. That changed in late 2016, when she stopped using firewood but turned to biogas, generated from the waste of the 46 pigs she raises.
Imagine if you could power your kettle using the energy generated from the vegetable cuttings quietly breaking down in your kitchen’s compost bin. That reality might not be so far off with the growth of biogas technology.
Biogas, also known as renewable natural gas, is “renewable” in the sense that humans and animals will keep producing waste – but we don’t want to encourage generating more waste for the sole purpose of creating more biogas. After all, though capturing and using methane is better than allowing it to escape to the atmosphere, burning the gas still has a climate impact. We could further reduce this impact by capturing and storing the CO2 from biogas combustion, but there are risks to this as well, so it is an imperfect answer.
HomeBiogas is a world leader in developing groundbreaking, simple to use biogas systems. We’re enabling people and businesses around the globe to turn their own organic waste into self-made clean energy, on-site.