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There's no Net Zero without Biogas AD: ending waste, delivering the circular economy, tackling the climate crisis

10 Uses of Biogas

We list below 10 uses of biogas in points. These are the ways in which biogas use can be an important technology to help mankind reduce climate change. It’s a useful alternative source of renewable energy and, if utilised, would be capable of reducing global warming by about 10%.

Be convinced of the many advantages of biogas use, by reading this article.

If you know of even more uses of the gas from biogas plants, please tell us about it by using the commenting facility below this article.

Commercial Scale Biogas Plants

1. Static Direct Combustion Systems

Image of a Centrifugal Gas Turbine - one of our 10 biogas uses.

A Gas Turbine – CC BY by gocarts

Biogas may be used in direct combustion systems (boilers, turbines, or fuel cells) for providing water heating, space heating, drying, absorption cooling, and steam production on the site of the digester.

This includes the gas used directly in static gas turbines and in hydrogen fuel cells to produce electricity. The electricity is used to power the pump and mixers of the biogas plant itself, may be used to:

  • power the farm’s electricity needs or factory/ business of the biogas plant owner, or
  • export to the local electricity grid and sold to a electricity supply company.

An alternative choice in biogas conversion is its use in stationary internal combustion engines which results in shaft horsepower, and co-generation of electricity.

This has much greater potential in the future, because the waste products of one cow can provide enough energy to power a standard light bulb for an entire day.

2. Mobile Direct Combustion Systems

If purified (upgraded) concentrated and compressed, it can be used in vehicle transportation. Compressed biogas is becoming widely used in Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany.

A biogas-powered train, named Biogaståget Amanda (The Biogas Train Amanda), has been in service in Sweden since 2005.

Today biogas vehicles are available to buy for everything from cars, and tractors to the largest trucks.

3. Producing Biomethane from Biogas

One of the 10 uses of biogas is to fuel biogas buses, as shown here.

A low emissions biogas fuelled bus. – CC BY-NC-ND by firstbusphotos

Upgrading biogas to biomethane (also known as RNG), by taking out the carbon dioxide, and water, plus the small amounts of hydrogen sulphide and other traces of impurity is a sustainable use of biogas.

Methane is also the ingredient in conventional natural gas, and the market for natural gas is huge.

Watch our video on the uses of biogas:

By upgrading the crude biogas to biomethane that has been cleaned to meet natural gas pipeline quality standards, the biogas producer can sell a premium value fuel.

Also, the market is huge. This makes it a reliable source of income, because the producer is not likely to saturate the market demand.

4. The Byproduct of Biogas Known as Digestate Helps Farmers Fertilise Their Crops

Image shows a large commercial biogas plant. A main source of the biogas to which we apply 10 biogas uses.

A Commercial AD Plant – CC BY by Tonyglen14

It helps in agriculture as the by-product of biogas helps in the production of organic fertilisers.

Using of biogas as a natural fertiliser, instead of  spreading manure, helps in reducing pollution. It also makes for a more eco-friendly environment.

It is great for reducing global warming. Plus, it is a cheap and affordable technology.

5. In CHP Gas Engines for District and Housing Estate Heating

When biogas is burnt in Gas Engines to generate electricity, the engines themselves get hot, and are cooled by circulating water through external cooling jackets. That hot water can be used to heat houses, businesses and factories.

In fact, the hot water can be used for anything requiring hot water, including all sorts of uses in manufacturing processes.

6. Climate Change Minimisation

Amusing image of a potential 4 legged biogas power plants.

Biogas plants are being used for climate change minimisation to curb the greenhouse effect.

For example, biogas is purified and injected into the natural gas grid to supply homes and business with renewable gas through the natural gas pipeline

Using biogas for this purpose reduces the demand for fossil fuels.

This in turn helps cut reliance on the use of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal. And that in turn, helps nations to reduce their carbon emissions (decarbonize).

7. Biogas as A Raw Material to Make Other Chemicals Until Now Made from Oil in Oil Refineries

Methane is the raw material for hydrocarbon production in oil refineries. Renewable methane can be used instead of methane from fossil fuel sources in refineries. And, to make all the different varieties of plastic (hydrocarbon based) materials now made from oil and natural gas.

For the remaining of our 10 Uses of Biogas, we now look at small-scale anaerobic digestion:

Small Home and Community AD Plant Scale Uses of Biogas

8. Gas Boilers to Produce Heat and Hydrogen

Domestic central heating boilers with hydrogen cells built-in, are already available. In addition to providing the hot water to heat a home, these use a fuel cell which produces electricity while the boiler produces heat as a normal boiler does, as well.

This is a very efficient way to use natural gas. But, using hydrogen fuel cells is even more sustainable when biogas is the source fuel and not natural gas. That’s because natural gas comes from fossil fuel sources.

9. Gas Rings Stoves and Lamps

A biogas stove, modified from an LPG ring.

Biogas Cooking Rings – CC BY by Sustainable sanitation

Biogas can be made at home using waste vegetable matter used in similar ways as natural gas in gas stoves, and lamps. It removes the need for spending many hours each day walking to the forest and collection wood fuel. The time released can be used for taking care of children, and teaching to them.

10. Use in Portable Gen-sets for Off-Grid Living

Last of our biogas uses is as a fuel to power portable electricity generating sets. Most off-grid homes use portable gen-sets, which are Internal Combustion (IC) engines combined with an alternator or dynamo.

The gen-sets used for running on biogas are the same ones as those used for running on propane gas or natural gas.

They find out the daily power consumption and use that as a guide to their gen-set requirements. The raw biogas should be scrubbed to remove the most corrosive impurities. That needs to be done before it is use in generators or the useful life of the generator set may be reduced.

Conclusion to Our List of 10 Uses of Biogas

Those are the 10 Uses of Biogas. Now you know how to use biogas!

However, the choice of the use of biogas needs to be decided upon at the start of an anaerobic digestion plant project. The reason is that the choice in the final means for utilisation of biogas impacts the design.

The biogas use will dictate many decisions about equipment requirements for biogas processing, storage. It will also be fundamental to the economics of operating the biogas conversion system.

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