Biogas is especially exciting because no matter how much biogas we use, we can always grow more, and make more of it, forever.
That's why biogas is amazing, and now we will explain what happens inside a biogas plant.
1 - Organic material arrives at the biogas plant.The organic material delivered may include animal manure, food waste, agricultural residues, or wastewater solids (sludge).
The organic materials are the "input", or "feed" for the biogas plant.
Each individual biogas plant is tailor made for the feed materials which it will accept.
The accepted materials may be from just one source, or a combination of several types of organic food source.
2 - Organic material is broken down in a "digester"Digesters can be wet (where the biomass is mixed in water and pumped and mixed as a slurry), or "dry" (where biomass is made wet with added water) but is handled as a solid.
The digester is a big tank, or multiple tanks, for fully mixed wet digestion.
Or, the digester may be a long tube, for plug-flow anaerobic digestion which is also a "wet" A.D. process.
And, sometimes (for a dry digester which operates on biomass solids), the digester reactor vessel is configured like a tunnel.
A tunnel type dry digester may be rounded, with large paddles to move the feedstock through the digester.
Or, a dry digester may have a flat floor for batch-by-batch production, and be wide and tall enough for feedstock loading and unloading vehicles to work in.
The digester is always airtight, and is usually equipped with mixing and heating equipment.
Naturally occurring microorganisms grow in the zero-oxygen environment.
They use the organic matter as their food, and break down (digest) the organic matter.
At wet process A.D. plants the digester is continuously fed with organic materials (the feedstock) and biogas, and the remaining liquid and solids, are also simultaneously discharged.
At dry process A.D. plants some are continuously fed and flow constantly, and some are batch flow type plants with doors that are closed after each filling and are left for a period of time to digest, before being emptied completely.
3 - Raw biogas is produced, and flows out of the digester.The biogas is mostly methane, but, it also contains carbon dioxide, water vapour, and raw biogas contains small amounts of what are known as, "trace" compounds which are potential pollutants.
Like biogas, "Natural gas" which is made from fossil fuels is also methane, the difference is that natural gas contains none of the impurities we just mentioned, two slides ago.
The most damaging impurities, if not removed from the biogas, are usually hydrogen sulphide, and siloxanes (chemicals which can build-up and obstruct the insides of generators, causing costly wear on components).
Purified biogas can replace "natural gas", but first it must be processed to as far as possible, remove everything but the methane.
The degree of processing which takes place in the anaerobic digestion plant, varies according to the use intended for the upgraded biogas.
Upgraded biogas of the highest quality is called "biomethane" or "renewable natural gas" R.N.G.
4 - After digestion in the Anaerobic Digestion Plant (Biogas Facility), which can take anything from 5 days to 60 days, the biogas is used in one of many ways.Biogas may be used to: Produce heat, electricity, vehicle fuel.
Or, it may be used for injection in the gas grid (natural gas pipelines), after it has been upgraded to become very valuable "biomethane".
However, the biogas accounts for only a small proportion of the incoming material, and what is left, after digestion is called digestate.
5 - Co-products Made from Digestate in AD PlantsThe digester residue which is known as "digestate" contains both solid fibres, and a liquid.
The solid portion and the liquid portion can be used to provide marketable products, such as liquid (or crystallised) fertiliser, compost, soil amendments, or animal bedding and fibre products for the building trade.
These are called "co-products", and like the biogas or biomethane, can be also sold for a profit.
We hope that you now have a clear understanding of what a biogas plant is.
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