Biogas offers a promising source of renewable energy for a wide range of industrial applications. Also known as biomethane or renewable natural gas, this carbon-neutral fuel is made from sources such as food waste, lawn clippings, and manure. This organic waste is broken down to create biogas and nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Natural materials are converted into biogas using three methods:
- Anaerobic digestion. Microorganisms break down moist organic material, releasing energy-rich gases. This reaction occurs in a closed container and does not use oxygen.
- Thermal gasification. Organic material is heated to temperatures above 600° C. The heat breaks energy bonds in the material, and biogas is released.
Sabatier reaction. Natural materials are heated under pressure. Energy bonds are broken, creating smaller hydrocarbon molecules, which become biogas.
Biogas offers a wide range of features that make it not only environmentally friendly, but fiscally sound. This blog post will discuss the benefits of biogas and why it should be considered over alternative methods.
Unlike fossil fuels, biogas is made from materials that take carbon from the air, making it a carbon-neutral fuel. If these waste products are disposed of in traditional ways, they will break down and produce greenhouse gases anyway. While biogas is a clean-burning source of energy, releasing these gases directly into the atmosphere rather than burning them contributes to the greenhouse effect.
There are multiple benefits of using waste to create biogas, such as:
- It keeps the waste out of landfills and water, while it also captures and uses the gas they produce in a positive way.
- Using waste to create biogas is an efficient form of waste management. When organic waste is dumped in landfills it breaks down and releases greenhouse gases. Using organic waste to produce biogas reduces the amount of landfill waste by repurposing that waste for beneficial uses.
- Waste can be transformed into energy and nutrient-rich fertilizer. That fertilizer is free of weed seeds, so it reduces the need for herbicides when used on crops.
- Keeping waste out of landfills also reduces soil and water pollution.
- When communities use their own materials to create fuel, it reduces their dependence on foreign sources of energy.
- In developing areas, generating biogas helps residents move away from gathering firewood or cooking on open fires.
A traditional linear economy is based on acquiring supplies, using them, and then finding a way to dispose of them. In a circular economy, the community creates products, makes use of them, then reuses them. Producing biogas is an excellent example of a circular economy—waste is turned into a usable form of energy, which is used to produce crops and food, which then become waste.
In the process, it also creates sustainable jobs. A low investment cost means even rural communities benefit from the employment opportunities—as well as from the biogas itself. Instead of paying to haul off and dispose of waste, biogas production can replace other costly forms of energy. It doesn’t require extensive transportation or storage compared to other common forms of energy, lowering the cost even more.
While these methods offer broad long-term financial benefits, it should be noted that producing biogases such as Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) can offer significant and immediate tax credits and other financial benefits for providers of renewable fuels. Federal and state programs exist that provide incentives to businesses that produce RNG for use as a transportation fuel, such as:
- Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The EPA’s RFS program seeks to replace a particular volume of fossil fuels used in the United States with renewable fuels. All U.S. importers and refiners of oil-based fuels must obtain a certain amount of Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credits each year to remain compliant with RFS rules. An RIN is generated each time a producer creates one gallon of renewable fuel, and producers can trade or sell these credits.
- Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Some states have implemented their own reward programs to encourage the use of renewable fuels, such as the LCFS programs in Oregon and California. The latest LCFS changes aim at a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels by 2030. LCFS grants credits to renewable fuel producers, which can then be sold for a profit to other fuel producers to offset the greenhouse gas deficits they create.
Biogas Production from Glauber Equipment
Biogas production benefits local, national, and global economies. It’s a clean, fiscally sound alternative to fossil fuels. By reusing waste to create an important resource, communities keep that waste out of landfills and water. A low investment cost makes this energy resource accessible—even in rural or developing communities.
Contact Us to speak to one of our experts and learn more about how biogas can benefit your community or company today!