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What is biogas?
Biogas is a combustible gaseous fuel that is collected from the microbial degradation of organic matter in anaerobic conditions. Biogas is principally a mixture of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) along with other trace gases. Biogas can be collected from landfills, covered lagoons, or enclosed tanks called anaerobic digesters.
What can biogas be made from?
Biogas is commonly made from animal manure, sludge settled from wastewater, and at landfills containing organic wastes. However, biogas can also be made from almost any feedstock containing organic compounds, both wastes and biomass (energy crops). Carbohydrates, proteins and lipids are all readily converted to biogas. Many wastewaters contain organic compounds that may be converted to biogas including municipal wastewater, food processing wastewater and many industrial wastewaters. Solid and semi-solid materials that include plant or animal matter can be converted to biogas.
Can biogas be used in place of fossil fuels? How?
Methane is the principal gas in biogas. Methane is also the main component in natural gas, a fossil fuel. Biogas can be used to replace natural gas in many applications including: cooking, heating, steam production, electrical generation, vehicular fuel, and as a pipeline gas.
What are the environmental impacts of producing/using biogas?
Biogas production can reduce the pollution potential in wastewater by converting oxygen demanding organic matter that could cause low oxygen levels in surface waters. Nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous are conserved in biogas effluents and can be used to displace fertilizers in crop production.
Does biogas contribute to climate change?
While combustion of biogas, like natural gas, produces carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, the carbon in biogas comes from plant matter that fixed this carbon from atmospheric CO2. Thus, biogas production is carbon-neutral and does not add to greenhouse gas emissions. Further, any consumption of fossil fuels replaced by biogas will lower CO2 emissions.
Can I make/use biogas at home or at my place of business?
Biogas can be made at home or at a business from food waste, yard and grass trimmings, and some organic solid wastes. However, efficient use of biogas is more readily accomplished at larger scales. A typical home might cook for an hour per day on biogas from home waste sources.