D.7 Use of Biogas

An aerobic digestion of sludge and other organic matterproduces biogas (a mix of methane and other gases).
Biogas can be used like other fuel gas for cooking, heating, lighting and electricity production.Describes biological processes that occur in the presence of oxygen.
Common name for the mixture of gases released from the anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas comprises methane (50 to 75 %), carbon dioxide (25 to 50 %) and varying quantities of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, water vapour and other components, depending on the material being digested. Biogas can be collected and burned for fuel (like propane).Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
A colourless, odourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. Methane is present in natural gas and is the main component (50–75%) of biogas that is formed by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.
Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.

When produced in household-level Biogas Reactors S.16 , biogas is most suitable for cooking or lighting. Where biogas is produced in large an aerobic digesters T.4 , electricity generation is an alternative.

Describes biological processes that occur in the presence of oxygen.
Common name for the mixture of gases released from the anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas comprises methane (50 to 75 %), carbon dioxide (25 to 50 %) and varying quantities of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, water vapour and other components, depending on the material being digested. Biogas can be collected and burned for fuel (like propane).A colourless, odourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. Methane is present in natural gas and is the main component (50–75%) of biogas that is formed by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.

Design Considerations

Gas demand can be defined on the basis of energy previously consumed. For example, 1 kg of dried cow dung corresponds to 100 L of biogas, 1 kg of firewood corresponds to around 200 L of biogas, and 1 kg of charcoal corresponds to 500 L of biogas. Gas consumption for cooking per person and per meal is between 150 and 300 L biogas. Approximately 30–40 L biogas is required to boil one litre of water, 120–140 L for 0.5 kg rice and 160–190 L for 0.5 kg vegetables. Tests have shown that the biogas consumption rate of a household biogas stove is between 300 to 400 L per hour. However, this depends on the stove design and methane content of the biogas. Compared to other gases, biogas needs less air for combustion. Therefore, conventional gas appliances need to be modified when they are used for biogas combustion (e.g. larger gas jets and burner holes). The distance through which the gas must travel should be minimised as leaks may occur. Drip valves should be installed for the drainage of condensed water, which accumulates at the lowest points of the gas pipe.

Common name for the mixture of gases released from the anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas comprises methane (50 to 75 %), carbon dioxide (25 to 50 %) and varying quantities of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, water vapour and other components, depending on the material being digested. Biogas can be collected and burned for fuel (like propane).A colourless, odourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. Methane is present in natural gas and is the main component (50–75%) of biogas that is formed by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.

Materials

Appliances required depend on how the biogas will be used. Many appliances have to be designed specifically for use with biogas and these are not always widely available. However, conventional gas burning stoves can be easily modified for use with biogas by widening the jets and burner holes and reducing the primary air intake. When biogas is used for cooking, a simple pressure indicator should be installed to inform the user of the amount of gas available.

Common name for the mixture of gases released from the anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas comprises methane (50 to 75 %), carbon dioxide (25 to 50 %) and varying quantities of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, water vapour and other components, depending on the material being digested. Biogas can be collected and burned for fuel (like propane).A colourless, odourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. Methane is present in natural gas and is the main component (50–75%) of biogas that is formed by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.

Applicability

Biogas Reactors S.16 T.4 can be considered as a treatment option during the stabilisation and recovery phase and the production of useable energy ( biogas) can partially reduce dependence on other fuels and contribute to a community’s self-reliance. When considering the use of biogas, it is important to consider the calorific efficiency of biogas in different applications; it is 55 % in stoves, 24 % in engines, but only 3 % in lamps. A biogas lamp is only half as efficient as a kerosene lamp. For common household or community level installations, the most efficient use of biogas is in stoves for cooking. For larger installations, the most efficient use of biogas is electricity generation with a heat-power combination. In this case, 88 % efficiency can be reached.

Common name for the mixture of gases released from the anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas comprises methane (50 to 75 %), carbon dioxide (25 to 50 %) and varying quantities of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, water vapour and other components, depending on the material being digested. Biogas can be collected and burned for fuel (like propane).A colourless, odourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. Methane is present in natural gas and is the main component (50–75%) of biogas that is formed by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.
The degradation of organic matter with the goal of reducing readily biodegradable compounds to lessen environmental impacts (e.g., oxygen depletion, nutrient leaching).

Operation and Maintenance

Biogas is usually fully saturated with water vapour, which leads to condensation. To prevent blocking and corrosion, the accumulated water should be periodically emptied from the system’s water traps. Trained personnel must regularly check gas pipelines, fittings and appliances. Cooking stoves should be kept clean and the burner ring should be checked for blockages. When using biogas for an engine, it is necessary to first reduce the hydrogen sulphide content as it forms corrosive acids when combined with condensing water.

Common name for the mixture of gases released from the anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas comprises methane (50 to 75 %), carbon dioxide (25 to 50 %) and varying quantities of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, water vapour and other components, depending on the material being digested. Biogas can be collected and burned for fuel (like propane).A colourless, odourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. Methane is present in natural gas and is the main component (50–75%) of biogas that is formed by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.

Health and Safety

When faecal matter and organic material is an aerobically digested as it is in a Biogas Reactor, the biogas produced is primarily composed of methane and carbon dioxide, with lesser amounts of hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, and other gases, depending on the material being digested. Each of these gases has safety issues. Overall, biogas risks include explosion, asphyxiation, disease, and hydrogen sulphide poisoning

Describes biological processes that occur in the presence of oxygen.
Common name for the mixture of gases released from the anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas comprises methane (50 to 75 %), carbon dioxide (25 to 50 %) and varying quantities of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, water vapour and other components, depending on the material being digested. Biogas can be collected and burned for fuel (like propane).A colourless, odourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. Methane is present in natural gas and is the main component (50–75%) of biogas that is formed by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.

Costs

The costs depend on the chosen application for the biogas and the appliance required. Piping is required and generally available in local markets. Gas cooking stoves are cheap and widely available. With proper instructions and simple tools the modifications can be done by a local handyperson.

Common name for the mixture of gases released from the anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas comprises methane (50 to 75 %), carbon dioxide (25 to 50 %) and varying quantities of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, water vapour and other components, depending on the material being digested. Biogas can be collected and burned for fuel (like propane).A colourless, odourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. Methane is present in natural gas and is the main component (50–75%) of biogas that is formed by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.

Social Considerations

In general, users find cooking with biogas acceptable as it can immediately be switched on and off (unlike wood and coal). Also, it burns without smoke, and, does not contribute to indoor air pollution. Biogas generated from faeces may not be appropriate in all cultural contexts. Training and orientation on biogas production, safety, and piping should be given to support user acceptance, to ensure efficient use and maintenance of the stove, to facilitate rapid identification of leakages and other potential issues. In some cases, users will need to learn how to cook with gas. It should also be demonstrated to users that biogas is not dangerous (due to its low concentration of methane).

Common name for the mixture of gases released from the anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas comprises methane (50 to 75 %), carbon dioxide (25 to 50 %) and varying quantities of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, water vapour and other components, depending on the material being digested. Biogas can be collected and burned for fuel (like propane).Refers to (semi-solid) excrement that is not mixed with urine or water. Depending on diet, each person produces approximately 50–150 L per year of faecal matter of which about 80 % is water and the remaining solid fraction is mostly composed of organic material. Of the total essential plant nutrients excreted by the human body, faeces contain around 39 % of the phosphorus (P), 26 % of the potassium (K) and 12 % of the nitrogen (N). Faeces also contain the vast majority of the pathogens excreted by the body, as well as energy and carbon rich, fibrous material.The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.A colourless, odourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. Methane is present in natural gas and is the main component (50–75%) of biogas that is formed by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.
Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18

Fact Sheet Overview

Inputs

Biogas

Outputs


Response Phase

Stabilisation +
Recovery +

Challenging Ground Conditions

Suitable

Application Level

Household + +
Neighbourhood +

Water-based or Dry Technology

Water-Based & Dry

Management Level

Household + +
Shared + +
Public + +

Technical Complexity

Medium

Functional Group

Use and / or Disposal

Required Space

Little

Objectives & Key Features

• Productive use of energy

Strength & Weakness

  • Free energy source
  • Can substitute fuel wood and other sources for cooking
  • Comparably few operation skills and little maintenance required
  • May not meet energy requirements and cannot replace all energy types
  • Biogas can only be stored for several days (low energy density) and needs to be used daily
  • Biogas lamps have lower efficiency compared to kerosene lamps
  • Biogas production below 15 °C is not economically feasible

Selected References

Guidance on biogas applications and basics of cooking with biogas

Fulford, D. (1996): Biogas Stove Design. A short course. Kingdom Bioenergy Ltd., University of Reading

Deublein, D., Steinhauser, A. (2011): Biogas from Waste and Renewable Resources. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany

GIZ (0): GIZ HERA Cooking Energy Compendium – A practical guidebook for implementers of cooking energy interventions. GIZ, Eschborn, Germany

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