In US and abroad: Biogas on the rise

By Anna Austin
Generated from manure and municipal solid waste to name a few, biogas is the backbone of multiple power applications and technologies across the globe.

To that end, California-based BioEnergy Solutions has received approval from the Kern County Board of Supervisors to construct a biogas distribution network in the Central Valley of southern California. Eventually becoming a nine-farm network, the underground pipeline system will transport methane gas captured from cow manure to a purification facility in Shafter, Calif. After being upgraded to utility-standard natural gas, it will be delivered to Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s nearby pipeline for distribution. BioEnergy Solutions spokesman Steve Duchesne said so far four dairy farms have signed onto the project, and engineering design work has begun. Project construction is slated to begin in 2009.

Georgia-based Great Lakes Biogas Technologies Inc. recently entered an agreement with Canada-based Zero Waste Energy Systems Inc. to market its waste compaction technology. The Revolution Compactor is designed to remove liquids and air from wastes prior to being loaded and transported, which reduces transportation costs and the need for landfill space. According to the company, it has a 50-to-1 compact ratio for plastics. The first unit was recently completed, and it's awaiting final testing, according to GLBT Chief Operating Officer Bruce Coxhead. The company has received letters of intent for the digester from a fruit and vegetable processor, a meat processor/packer, and a large dairy operation.

Researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., announced they have developed a process that uses undigested manure and chemical fertilizers to remove hydrogen sulfide gas from biogas produced from the anaerobic digestion of manure at farms, sewage treatment plants and landfills. To be marketed as SulfaMaster, the process pipes biogas through barrels containing a medium of manure mix, which removes the hydrogen sulfide. The researchers believe it will be a cheaper alternative to industrial scrubbers that aren't feasible for smaller farms.

In other global biogas news, U.K.-based Global Renewables Ltd. and Bovis Lend Lease contracted with Kirk Environmental on a project to build two anaerobic digesters that will serve to reduce landfill needs by treating household waste in Lancashire County, and produce biogas for electricity generation. Meanwhile, in Asia, the World Bank announced it will invest $120 million in China's National Rural Biogas Program, which aims to help farmers and residents improve living conditions by using the anaerobic digestion of waste to generate biogas for cooking.