Mar 202020
Make Biogas Digester – Waste Water Power
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Welcome to my Make Biogas Digester post!

First of all, I must congratulate you for taking the time to do your research on producing biogas at home. When Methane and Carbon Dioxide are released into the environment they cause global warming by trapping heat in the atmosphere. Biogas can act as a solution.

As a qualified teacher, I am passionate about education and the impact it can have on bettering our future. It is down to us individuals to do our research and make small changes to the way we live our lives. 

These small changes are easy to make and can have a big impact on our health, the health of our family, and our environment. This website is designed for everyday people looking to make these changes. Here you will learn a legitimate way to go green. 

Let me be completely transparent with you, I am not here to pitch or sell anything to you. I am here to share my personal experience of going green! 

Introduction...

Global warming is a natural cycle. Scientists have concluded that human activity which results in greenhouse gases, such as Carbon Dioxide, Methane, and Ozone, is contributing to the rapid warming we are witnessing today. 

As a result, people are looking for solutions and are turning to green energy alternatives. Some popular options are not a perfect solution. I have discovered that using bioga​s not only provides me with a useable fuel but it also reduces global warming!

When these gases are trapped and used as a fuel source, such as biogas, carbon dioxide is used in the decomposition process and the amount of free methane is reduced. So, biogas has a two-fold effect on reducing greenhouse gases... Amazing! 

Green-Energy-Light-Bulb

Other Green Energy Options...

There are several green power alternatives available but none of them are perfect solutions. 

Solar power seems to be one of the best viable options however they too can be unreliable as they suffer from hotspots, micro-cracks,  snail-trail contamination, and potential induced degradation. When solar power was first invented it was inefficient-and although it has improved, this industry is not quite at the standard I would like to see. Plus the manufacturing of this equipment adds to the greenhouse gases we already have. 

Wind power is considered an undeveloped transmission infrastructure and harms their local environment (especially when built in the ocean) and it is believed that although currently, this is an effective energy source, other developments will be more competitive. 

Geothermal energy is harnessed energy from the heat of the lava below the earth surface. The production of this energy causes hazardous gasses and minerals to rise to the earth's surface with the hot water. These minerals cause pollution and are better left in the ground.  

Low-impact hydropower is harnessing river power while considering the water quality and attempting to maintain the life within it. However, this isn't a perfect solution either.

Compared to regular hydro-power, these units produce less energy, require construction in greater numbers and the chosen sites may be too far from human dwellings to be worthwhile. On top of this, some construction sites may lie in areas that have sensitive wildlife. 

What is Methane?

As a greenhouse gas, Methane is far more potent than Carbon Dioxide, playing an important role in global warming, which is bazaar as the gas is barely even mentioned in tabloids that cover this topic. 

Methane is natural gas. It is produced naturally in the environment when organic wastes are digested or decomposed without the aid of oxygen. This can be from animals, human activities such as the production of fossil fuels, agriculture, and rotting landfill. 

Organic matters that are left to rot in landfills produce methane. This is because over time, the landfill is filled and the biodegradable matter on the lower level of the landfill is no longer ventilated, therefore becoming a haven for methanogens (methane-forming microbes).

It is possible to trap the Methane created by human activity and then use it to produce energy such as electricity. If we are to reduce climate change, taking control of its production by reducing it or reusing it is essential. 

However, it is important to acknowledge that although this gas plays a significant role in our atmosphere, many scientists say there is further research to be done on it and they don't always agree on what causes the high levels of Methane in the atmosphere. 

It seems clear to me that this is an area that needs more attention if we are to understand climate change and develop technologies for reducing it. 

Scientist-Pouring-Liquid

Is Methane a Bad Gas?

Naturally occurring or fossil gases are mainly methane and are non-renewable energy. This means that the gas of the material used in its creation are gone and can not be recycled. 

Although methane is a greenhouse gas, it is considered a lot healthier to use in the production of electricity when compared to fossil fuels such as coal and diesel. Science suggests that making the switch from fossil fuel power plant to methane power plants would reduce the greenhouse effect one hundred years, allowing us the much needed time to go 100% green. 

So why is Methane considered a cleaner energy source? This is because burning Methane, whether from the natural gas or biofuels, reduces the release of methane into the environment, thereby mitigating the adverse effects of these greenhouse gases. 

It is naturally occurring, we will always have access to it while there is life on earth. So it makes sense to harness this energy source to reduce the impacts of the greenhouse gasses instead of harnessing sources that only add to these effects. 

So, yes, methane is a bad gas until we turn it around to do us good. Are you ready to learn how I learned to use methane?

Composting to Reduce Methane...

One way I reduce methane production to ensure my compost has sufficient airflow. Composting needs oxygen to speed up the process and this prevents the production of methane.

Remember, methane is only produced when there is no oxygen in the mix. So if you are composting, ensure that it has efficient air circulation to prevent the production of methane. 

Certain compost designs allow air into the middle of the compost. I didn't want to spend money on a new composter so I built one out of clean scrap wood and lined it with chicken wire I had leftover from building my chicken coup.

I then used a shovel to turn my compost once a month to allow sufficient airflow to get into the organic material. I am surprised at how effective this method is. I can have ready-to-use compost in a few months. We do also have a ton of earthworms and castings in there!

DI-Composter


What is Biogas?

Most first-world countries call biogas a dirty fuel source because it uses methane, however when compared to other fossil fuels, it is far better for the environment. Instead, the process of harvesting methane gas is the most prevalent fuel source in most countries today. 

Biogas is green energy made from decomposed organic waste. Producing biogas mitigates global warming by solving a two-fold problem: (1) lessening the release of methane into the environment and (2) veering away from heavy use of fossil fuels.

Biogas is harnessing energy from the breakdown of organic matters through anaerobic decomposition. Every person disposes of organic matters daily, as do livestock.  

This is what piqued my interest in the subject. What if I could use my waste to create a gas I can use while reducing the amount of methane in the atmosphere that contributes towards global warming?

It almost sounded too good to be true! So, I decided to give it a go and I discovered that it's a lot easier to create than I thought it would be.

Methanogenesis...

Anaerobic decomposition is accomplished by storing biodegradable materials in an anaerobic digester. Whereas decomposition is done by methane-forming microbes or methanogens. 

This process of decomposing materials to produce methane gas is called methanogenesis. Methanogens are members of the Class Methanomicrobia that thrive well in the following conditions: constant temperature, stable pH, zero oxygen, and simple organic acids as food. 

They can digest a wide variety of organic materials, including sludge, fats, oils, and greases that cannot be decomposed immediately in normal conditions.

All of these organic materials are produced naturally and poor waste disposal methods of such materials can create even more Methane and contribute further to global warming and climate change. It makes sense to me to use these materials to produce a sustainable gas which reduces levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 

Harvesting Methane...

To start you will need some organic waste. Wastewater works perfectly fine. The fundamental process involves pumping carbon dioxide into a sealed chamber to flush out the methane. 

This results in the excess use of carbon dioxide while putting methane into good use. Two greenhouse gases that when left alone wreak havoc but properly used, they can do wonders.

It has been found out by scientists that methanogenesis is faster when the bond between the carbon and hydrogen isotopes in methane molecules are far apart. However, they are yet to discover the intricacies of this discovery. Again, I hope more research is conducted in this area. 


The Pros and Cons of Biogas Production...

As in any human endeavor, biogas production has its advantages and disadvantages. The important thing is to weigh each one and then decide if the advantages are worth the risk and hazards the disadvantages may present.

Everybody lives differently and the main advantage is its ability to reduce levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere while providing a sustainable energy source.

Its main disadvantage is safety-related because this is an undeveloped area. Therefore, I needed plenty of space for production. This was not much of a concern for me as I live on a smallholding and have my land.

Pros of Biogas Production...

It is a reliable eco-friendly source of power
  • Carbon Neutral energy source - the combustion of biogas produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. However, the carbon in biogas comes from plant matter. Therefore, biogas production is carbon-neutral and does not add to greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Methane traps 25 - 30 times more heat than the same amount of carbon dioxide;
  • Biogas reduces the use of fossil fuels, which are non-renewable at the same time releases harmful gases into the environment;
  • Unlike other green energy sources, biogas is not dependent on the weather and can be produced 24 hours a day, seven days. a week;
  • Gas can be stored for use in the future.  
It reduces soil and water pollution
  • Landfills can be harnessed to harvest methane and in turn reduce soil pollution;
  • Wastewater can be used to produce biofuel which can help in reducing water pollution;
  • Waterways became more navigable. Excess organic matter in waterways encourages the bloom of plants such as water lilies which can affect navigation and productivity of the water body, especially in lakes;
  • Any biomass refuse can be used to feed the production of biogas - wood chips, biodegradable plastics, grease, fats, animal entrails, etc - reducing the chances of these wastes ending up on landfill or our waterways.
Produces organic fertilizer
  • The “waste” from biogas production has been cleaned of all kinds of pollutants and other harmful chemicals, making it an ideal organic fertilizer that can be used in your garden.
Low investment, long-term cheap energy
  • Setting up a biodigester at home is simple and does not need a lot of advanced engineering;
  • Livestock farms can greatly benefit from the waste-to-energy system, especially for animal dung, uneaten hay, and other organic matters.
Can generate green employment
  • A biogas plant cannot operate on its own, it will need manpower to operate and maintain it. Even home systems can impact employment, even indirectly; 
  • The materials used for making a DIY biogas system go through standard fabrication, marketing, delivery, etc.
Green cooking fuel 
  • Open fire cooking poses more health hazards than smoking and not everyone can afford LPG and electric stoves;
  • This is a sustainable and carbon-neutral energy source.
Woman-Cooking

Cons of Biogas Production...

Needs space to produce safely
  • Maintaining the production parameter can be challenging at times;
  • The production of biogas, as with any gas, can be dangerous and therefore having adequate space is essential;
  • Biogas production is dependent on the ambient temperature. Sudden or climatic changes in temperature affect biogas production. Methanogens are active when the temperature inside the digester is between 35-40oC.
  • This is not something people living in cities should be doing.
Biogas contains impurities
  • While it was good for cooking and lighting, it contains sediments and other impurities that make it unsuitable for use on engines, unless cleaned. 
  • Cleaning for gas is easy to implement at home.
  • Impurities can damage a fuel cell system. This is only a concern if you are using biogas to produce electricity. I use biogas for cooking.  
Storage challenges 
  • All gases can be difficult to store;
  • Biogas essentially is Methane and this is difficult to compress and liquefy but I am going to show you how to do this;
  • Finding suitable storage is essential if you want the production space to be far from where it is used, for safety reasons this is highly recommended.
Fires and explosions
  • Fires and explosions can happen, especially when the harvesting tank for the methane is flimsy and easily punctured. Extra care should be taken so no open flames or smoking near the biogas facility
Methane poisoning
  • When working in enclosed spaces where methane is stored, it is best to have a self-contained breathing apparatus on hand in case of emergencies
Spread of diseases
  • Biogas production deals with animal manure as a food source of the methanogens. Handling livestock manure can cause the spreading of diseases so it is important to practice caution and strict animal hygiene when handling. 
  • This issue can be solved by installing a trough to convey the manure from the farm to the biodigester.

How to Produce Biogas from Home...

Producing biogas at home is simpler than you think. However, given the pros and cons listed here, precaution must be taken into intent consideration.

Make Biogas Digester: The Final Verdict!

Biogas is a viable green energy alternative. Producing biogas at home has its pros and cons. For sure, not all people can use biogas, especially those in urban areas. But on farms, it is a very viable source of energy. Not dirty.

Producing biogas at home requires a certain level of expertise. I bought a book titled 'Anaerobic Digestion - Making Biogas - Making Energy: The Earthscan Expert Guide. This book benefits me in the following ways:

  • Saves me time because all the information was in one place
  • Saves me money on gas bills
  • Reduces my greenhouse gas emissions daily
  • Provides me with organic fertilizer for my garden
  • Promotes safe practice during the production of biogas

It's the best $70 I have spent on Amazon!  

If you have any questions or thoughts on haw to make a biogas digester, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below. I will reply as soon as I can!


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