What is Biogas Power?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Biogas power is energy which is derived from the breakdown of organic material. There are a number of uses for biogas power, ranging from powering certain types of car engines to running cookstoves. This type of energy has been touted in some areas as a source of renewable alternative energy which could potentially be easy to implement in low income communities in developing nations. The ability to access energy could allow small communities more opportunities which would not otherwise be available.

Organic materials may be added to a digester that enables biogas resulting from decomposition to be converted into useable energy.
Organic materials may be added to a digester that enables biogas resulting from decomposition to be converted into useable energy.

There are a number of sources of raw material for biogas power, with one of the most popular being dung. In the process of making biogas, people will also break down the waste to make it more manageable, a pleasant side benefit. To produce biogas, the organic materials need to be placed in a biogas digester which will maintain the conditions which promote the breakdown of the material into biogas. Once biogas has been produced, it can be used in a number of different ways.

Biogas power is energy which is derived from the breakdown of organic material, such as cow manure.
Biogas power is energy which is derived from the breakdown of organic material, such as cow manure.

Compressed biogas can be used like natural gas to power vehicles with engines which are equipped to run on such energy. Biogas can also be used to generate heat for cooking, washing, and warming structures. It can also be utilized to run generators which create electricity for light and other tasks. When refined, biogas can even be run through conventional gas piping by utilities, and some utilities allow people to use biogas to generate electricity which can be fed back into the grid if production exceeds need.

One advantage to biogas power is that it can be implemented at relatively low cost. Biogas digesters are available commercially at varying costs, depending on the amount of organic material they can accommodate, and it is also possible to build a digester. While large-scale biogas generation to run a facility such as a power plant could be complex and potentially costly, using biogas to power a home is relatively simple. In India, for example, biogas digesters have been used to generate fuel for cooking, cutting down on emissions from other types of cooking fuel and helping communities manage waste.

Biogas power is only one of many renewable energy alternatives which could be used to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, a goal which many nations share. While biogas is unlikely to act as a complete solution, it can be part of a larger framework which could address fossil fuel dependency in addition to providing opportunities for small communities.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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