The Difference Between Biomethane and Biogas

Computers & TechnologyTechnology

  • Author Steve Last
  • Published May 7, 2022
  • Word count 907

What is the difference between biomethane and biogas? That's a good question and one that is more and more often being asked. So, let's dive in and answer that question.

Both are renewable gas derivatives that are produced from the fermentation of discarded organic materials during the anaerobic digestion process. Biogas is produced where anaerobic digestion occurs naturally in landfills and from digesters which are used to reduce the volume of the sludge produced during aerobic sewage treatment. We explain why biogas products cause the emission of fewer greenhouse gas than others.

Biomethane is nothing other than biogas which has been purified in a way which removes the impurities (mostly carbon dioxide and water vapour) in the raw biogas output from the digester tank. In fact, biomethane is usually synonymous with "natural gas" because it is pressurised and given a calorific value almost identical to natural gas.

The only real difference is that natural gas is a fossil fuel and causes climate-changing carbon emissions when it is burnt while in large, in the bigger scheme of things over a 3 to 5-year timescale, biomethane is not. Biomethane is a renewable fuel and can be made in truly sustainable ways. Because biogas and natural gas have the same methane molecule, it can be used in LNG engines among others. Biogas is regarded as being clean during combustion, but LNG is better because it is made up of 99.9% methane and is created from organic waste.

Biomethane and its main source which is "biogas" are destined to become big players as key components of the energy transition. The energy transition is a pragmatic strategy to move toward reduced greenhouse gas emissions and diversifying energy matrices as soon as possible while using technology already proven to work.

Although today, biomethane accounts for only a fraction of natural gas demand, this will grow as more biogas plants are built and commissioned. Generally, in most nations, biomethane suppliers provide biogas at rates below 10% of the available natural gas supply. Nevertheless, this percentage is rising fast.

The difference between biogas and biomethane is that the former is produced through the fermentation of biomass, and the latter is the end product after upgrading. The anaerobic decomposition and fermentation of organic matter to produce methane gas is a natural process that has existed for millions of years, before the emergence of fossil fuels. It is nature's way of recycling waste alongside aerobic decomposition.

The first human use of biogas dates to at least 3,000 BC, when the Assyrians burned it for baths.

Biogas is a renewable fuel that can be used for a variety of purposes, including generating electricity, and heat, and when it has been cleaned-up as a low air-pollution transport fuel.

In the United States, biogas is mainly extracted from where it is produced in landfills, and from the anaerobic treatment of livestock manure on livestock farms.

About 90% of biogas produced in the US comes from landfills unti;l 2020. In the United States, however, biomethane is also produced from agricultural waste from large farms. In fact, livestock carbon emissions account for one-third of the US nation's methane emissions.

Due to state and federal support, the United States is the global leader in the use of biomethane for transport.

Biomethane is an energy-rich gas that is created during the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter. It is composed primarily of methane and carbon dioxide. In its raw form, biogas may contain between forty and sixty percent methane and only small amounts of water vapour and other gases. After undergoing refinement, biogas can be used as a substitute for conventional natural gas.

While biogas and biomethane have similar qualities, there are some differences between them. Biogas generally contains more hydrogen than biomethane but because of the other impurities present, it is not usually seen as being compatible with conventional fuels.

Biogas has the same methane molecule as natural gas, so it can be used in LNG engines. Because it is 99.9% methane, biogas is considered cleaner than LNG and is produced from organic matter. Biogas also emits fewer greenhouse gases.

In addition to being the raw material for producing biomethane, biogas also has some benefits. But biomethane wins out as experience in biomethane plant ownership it can help prevent emissions throughout the value chain.

Biogas is produced naturally in an atmosphere-controlled environment. In addition to reducing fossil fuel use, biomethane also produces biofertiliser, which returns organic carbon back to the soil. That process also helps reduce the need for mineral fertilisers. These are all positive steps in a sustainable energy supply chain.

The use of organic materials in biomethane production improves hygienic conditions in rural areas. The process also decreases the risk of watercourse pollution. Biogas and biomethane contributes to the economy of rural communities and preserves nature. There are many similarities between biogas and biomethane, and a better understanding of their different roles will help you make a decision on the best option for your needs.

A common biogas upgrade involves the use of a scrubber. It captures the biogas produced by anaerobic digestion and removes the hydrogen sulfide (H2S) present in it. By injecting air into the scrubber tank, the bacteria oxidise the H2S compound further and convert it to elemental sulfur. Some common methods of removing hydrogen sulphide (H2S) from biogas include introducing some air/oxygen to the digester biogas which is added using lagoon aerators and adding iron chloride to the feed slurry.

Biomethane (see https://biogas-digester.com/biogas-and-biomethane-renewable-energy )also contains small amounts of hydrogen sulfide, toxic at high concentrations.

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