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Biogas Digestion

What is Biogas Digestion?

Biogas Digestion is the process of taking biogas to produce electricity, heat, or hot water Biogas means a gas formed by carbon dioxide and methane from breakdown of organic materials such as manure.

What is a Digester?
Digester is a vessel or container where the biogas process takes place. Bacteria breaks down manure or other waste products to create biogas. Products may be fed into the chamber such as manure or the container could be used to cover a place that is already giving off biogas such as a swamp or a landfill.

History of Biogas
1808 Sir Humphrey Davy found that methane was present in the gases that is formed by the Anaerobic Digestion of manure 1895 Biogas is used to light up the streets in Exeter, England

2005 The Biogas Support program in Nepal wins the Ashden Reward for installing over 150,000 Biogas Plants in rural areas. And a Biogas powered train starts it's service in Sweden

1884 Louis Pasteur student, Ulysse Gayon, performed the anaerobic fermentation of manure and water at 35C and obtained 100 liters of Biogas per cubic meter of Manure.

1957 A British Inventor, Bates, modifies his car to run on Biogas produced from pig manure.

Reasons of Interest in Biogas Anaerobic Digester systems

Improved Technology in systems has led to reliability Good way to manage manure given the odor and environmental concerns associated with manure Government has subsidized programs for systems Potential to sell credits to utilities and utilities continue interest in green energy

Biogas Process

Design of a Digester

How Digester Works

Temperature must be kept between 65 degrees and 150 degrees 4 Types of bacteria breakdown the waste Hydrolytic breaks organic material to simple sugar and amino acids Fermentative then converts to organic acids Acidogenic convert to carbon dioxide, acetate, and hydrogen Methanogenic produces biogas

Combined Heat and Power

Also known as cogeneration Using the heated water for other purposes such as heating buildings or creating additional energy

Sources of Biogas
Wetlands Sewage Sludge Landfills Plant Material Animal Waste


Number of United States Operating Anaerobic Digesters by Technology

Complete Mix Digester Are larger vessels that can either be above or below ground. They are used for larger amounts of manure Plug Flow Digester- Is used for ruminant animal manure and requires little maintenance. Better for smaller operations

fixed film digester a tank designed as part of a manure management system to handle manure up to 3 percent solids. The digester is temperature controlled and a media is placed inside the digester. This design allows the microbial populations to attach to the media and grow as a biofilm (fixed film), thus preventing the microbes from being removed with the effluent

temperature-phased anaerobic digester (TPAD) two tanks designed as part of a manure management system. The digesters are heated, the first digester in the thermophilic temperature range and the second digester in the mesophilic temperature range. This will maximize biological activity for the destruction of volatile solids, methane production and odor reduction.

covered lagoon digester an anaerobic lagoon is commonly used when manure has less than 2 percent solids. Decomposition of the manure occurs, methane is produced and effluent odor is reduced. The lagoon is covered with a gas-tight cover to capture the biogas.

A landfill gas-to-energy consists of a series of wells drilled into the landfill. A piping system connects the wells and collects the gas. Dryers remove moisture from the gas, and filters remove impurities. The gas typically fuels an engine-generator set or gas turbine to produce electricity. The gas also can fuel a boiler to produce heat or steam. Further gas cleanup improves biogas to pipeline quality, the equivalent of natural gas. Reforming the gas to hydrogen would make possible the production of electricity using fuel cell technology.

US Government Involvement

On March 20, 2009 revised the new source performance standards to limit when owners/operators of stationary combustion turbines using biogas had to install emission controls and/or pretreatment systems to remove sulfur compounds Biogas is recognized as an advanced biofuel under 42 U.S.C.A. 7545

Financial Incentives
Since 2003 USDA has awarded 37 million to anaerobic digestion systems

EPA AGSTAR Study of Two farms

Parameter With anaerobic digestion

Greenhouse gas emissions

Substantial reduction
Methanesubstantial reduction (3.03 tons per cow-yr on a carbon dioxide equivalent basis) Nitrous oxideNo evidence of emissions with or without anaerobic digestion No significant reduction Oxygen demandsubstantial reduction (8.4 lb per cow-day) Pathogenssubstantial reduction (Fecal coliforms: ~99.9%) (M. avium paratuberculosis: ~99%) Nutrient enrichmentno reduction

Ammonia emissions Potential water quality impacts

Economic impact

Significant increase in net farm income ($82 per cow-yr)

Benefits and Concerns

Benefits of Biogas Digester Systems

Odor Reduction by using raw manure If Ammonia, a by-product of process, is captured can be used to help plant growth by injecting it into the ground Reduction of Electricity for Farms Carbon Dioxide generated from biogas digester systems creates less greenhouse gas then methane gas used in initial process

Biogas Digester System Concerns

Releases Nitrogen and ammonia into the atmosphere both of which hazardous Can release Hydrogen Sulfide a very toxic gas Methane released can create explosive atmosphere Should raw materials get into water supply can contaminate the water Transportation is of a concern because methane is explosive although new technology may allow it to be stored in powder form

Current U.S. Examples

Central Vermont of 158,000 customers 4,000 have agreed to pay a small premium to use biogas energy Panda Ethanol Plant in Texas Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant in Portland, Oregon produces 1.5 million kilowatts of energy per year

Other Countries use of Biogas

Nepal Africa Ecuador Sweden

Since 2003 Nepal has built 94,425 small biogas plants for individual use One plant costs approximately $593 USD (2009 estimate) Nepal has subsidized half the cost for farmers willing to build these biogas plants Nepal has targeted farmers with at least one cattle and owns a small piece of land

Benefits from Nepal's Prospective

Saves from deforestation because main source of Nepals farmers power is wood burning Has created 13,000 jobs since 2003 for those who build these small plants Reduces air pollution because biogas burns cleaner then wood Improves women and girls lives because the plants reduce overall work by about 3 hours then collecting and cooking with fire wood leaving more time for education

Biogas distributors cost about $50 per family Currently Nigeria is working on a biogas project that will provide gas to 5,400 people and cost $300k

Ecuador Biogas Sewage Project

A large education complex called Santa Maria del Fiat did not have proper sewage system and would simply dump waste in open spaces. This contaminated underground water sources and created sever odors The project built a biogas digester that processed both human and animal waste

Ecuador Biogas Sewage Project Continued

The school also built a water reclamation system During school year the 500 students waste is used to produce over 40% of the schools gas electricity. Power is also produced in the summer from local farmers animal and vegetable waste The school sells the fertilizer by product and uses the fertilizer in the schools own orchid

Sweden Biogas Train

Train runs on entrails of slaughtered cows Costs 20% more to run on methane then diesel right now Sweden is 10 times ahead of its European counter parts for binding goals the European Commission as setup for use of bio-products by the end of the year 2010 Sweden also has 65 fleet of biogas buses

Biomass counts for only 4% of United States yearly energy use Biogas works best on small scale operations Has technology improves we will be able to use methane gas more efficiently Good way to put human and animal waste to good use