23 NOVEMBER 2022

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Biogas as an alternative energy?

Biogas

Biogas is a gas that is generated in natural environments (100% renewable energy) or in specific devices, by the biodegradation reactions of organic matter, through the action of microorganisms (methanogenic bacteria, etc.), and other factors, in the absence of oxygen (i.e. in an anaerobic environment). It is composed of methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen acid (H2S) and water vapour (H2O).

At European level, this fuel has great potential in countries such as Sweden and Germany. In Spain, on the other hand, this alternative has not yet taken off, among other things because of the high cost and maintenance of biomass storage plants. Even so, the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 already recognises the need for biogas to reduce CO2 emissions.

We can consider biogas as an alternative energy as it allows us to rely much less on other energy sources such as fossil fuels, which are undoubtedly much more polluting.

It is important not to confuse biogas and biomethane, although both produce heat and electrical energy, their main difference lies in the concentration of methane in each of these renewable energies. The latter (biomethane) is produced by refining biogas, the process of which increases the methane to levels of over 95%. This process, known as upgrading, involves the removal of CO2 from the biogas.

So how does biogas work and what is the process by which it works?

  1. Organic matter is collected and stored. This can be anything from animal excrement to waste from industrial or agricultural processes.
  2. This organised matter is taken to a biodigester plant, where it decomposes in an oxygen-free environment.
  3. Through a series of valves and pipes the biogas is expelled.
  4. When it reaches the generators or engines, the energy is transformed into electricity, steam, heat or light.
  5. Finally, after all the biogas has been extracted, the resulting material can be used as a natural fertiliser for agricultural purposes.

There is no doubt that biogas is a renewable and inexhaustible energy. Although it is true that it will always depend on the organic matter, great benefits can be obtained from it.

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