Biogas has been used as an energy source for centuries, to warm bathwater or light streetlamps, for example. But it is our slate of 21st-century socioenvironmental challenges that have sparked greater interest in biogas production and technology — especially the conversion of waste into biogas. Organic waste disposal, a huge problem due to modern society’s soaring consumption patterns, could prove to be both an attractive and low-cost renewable alternative energy source and solution. In fact, biogas systems may potentially meet a variety of energy needs worldwide, while reducing waste streams and providing biofertilizer as a by-product. Some analysts now even suggest this win-win form of bioenergy could make a significant contribution to achieving the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and also help nations hit their emissions targets under the Paris climate agreement. Anaerobic digester installed at Michigan State University. Image courtesy of Michigan State University. What is a biodigester? Anaerobic digesters, or biodigesters, produce biogas much like the human digestion system. When biodigesters are fed organic material — food waste, agricultural residues, and animal or human manure — it is decomposed by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen and turned into biogas, which can then be used for heating, cooking, transportation and other needs. Biodigesters can be designed in small, medium or large sizes to suit domestic, industrial or municipal uses. Biogas produced from waste (also known as renewable natural gas) contains a mixture of gases, mostly carbon dioxide and combustible methane — both of which are potent greenhouse gases…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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