The Benefits of Biogas to the US & How the 2018 Farm Bill Affects the AD Industry

The Benefits of Biogas and the Impact of the 2018 Farm Bill on the US AD Industry

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that produces solid and liquid products as well as biogas in the absence of oxygen. This approach can give environmental, economic, and social benefits while handling organic waste when combined with nutrient recovery and other complementary technologies.

The benefits of biogas are finally making their way into US government circles, as evidenced by biogas provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill.

A carbon utilisation and biogas education programme was established by the 2018 Bill. The bill allocates $1 million per year for the next five years (2019-2023) to educate agricultural growers and other stakeholders about the benefits of collecting organic waste from multiple sources and processing it in a single biodigester.

As we can see, the 2018 farm bill includes a significant amount of cash for tackling food waste, and the biogas industry, thanks to the American Biogas Council, stands to gain from some of these provisions. [For additional information on the 2018 Farm Bill, scroll below.]

Biogas upgrading is done for injection into natural gas pipelines. But equally valuable is its use in fuel cells, and as a transportation fuel. When used to fuel vehicles it can provide cross-media benefits to the environment. These include:

  • Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction,
  • improved air and water quality,
  • odour abatement
  • waste reduction, and
  • fossil fuel displacement.

These are all goals of the biogas industry.

Anaerobic digestion is a waste biostabilization technique. Nutrients are conserved and converted into forms that are used by plants.

However, unless the associated environmental advantages and other by-products are taken into account, the economics of biogas generation might be difficult to justify.

Furthermore, both organic waste managers and regulators have frequently been in the dark about the overall environmental and economic performance of existing biogas management solutions.

The Agstar programme was established by the US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) in 1994 to provide data and to support the development and implementation of anaerobic digestion technology for the treatment of animal manure.

The government has announced the availability of cash to demonstrate ways to accelerate the construction of new or improved anaerobic digestion capacity and infrastructure in the United States using food waste.

President Biden's executive orders 13985, Improving Racial Fairness and Support for Underprivileged Communities through the federal government, and executive order 14008, combating the climate crisis at home and abroad, both complement the priorities outlined in this funding announcement.

Image text; "Low temperature anaerobic digestion". One of the Benefits of Biogas

Agstar Biogas Technology Market Summit

In May 2012, the U.S. The EPA Office of the Chief Financial Officer organised a technological market summit, which featured a track on biodigesters, in partnership with other EPA divisions, including Agstar. In advance of the summit, the EPA established a workgroup of public and commercial sector representatives to study impediments to widespread digester adoption and brainstorm ideas to expand digester use in the United States.

The group created a primer that summarised these challenges and offered solutions, as well as case studies of successful anaerobic digesters from various biogas sectors.

The USDA, along with the EPA and the Department of Energy, released a biogas potential roadmap study in 2011, outlining the actions the three federal agencies would take to advance biogas growth in the United States. The plan, as outlined in this study, includes ways for bringing the following benefits of biogas:

  • The growth of a thriving biogas business in the United States.
    Creating jobs and boosting our economy.

Aside from economic rewards, the strategy intends to educate the public about the advantages of biogas development. It seeks to accomplish this by obtaining public acceptance for the benefits of biogas use in lowering GHG emissions and improving environmental quality.

The Case for Biogas and Biomethane

The case for the benefits of biogas and biomethane comes at a vital crossroads in modern life: how to cope with the growing amount of organic waste created by modern society and economies, as well as the need to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Biogas or biomethane production provides a view into a world where resources are continuously used and reused by converting biological waste into a renewable energy supply.

This opens up a world of possibilities in which rising energy demand might be fulfilled while simultaneously bringing broader environmental advantages. This is also mentioned in the latest EPA report, epa/ord/r-16/099, analysing the air quality, climate, and economic consequences of biogas management technology, which was released at Bio-Cycle refor 16.

This conference was billed as "the sole national biogas conference for the biogas business" at the time.

Benefits of Biogas and the Anaerobic Digestion Process

Among the many beneficial aspects of anaerobic digestion the conference presented were:

  • Benefits of Biogas and Anaerobic Digestion compared to traditional manure management systems.
  • AD system design and technology. Describes the elements of a biogas and digestate recovery system.

When heavy rain falls immediately after spreading manure, high-intensity animal farms in high-rainfall areas, as well as nitrate sensitive zones, may face a very significant risk of river pollution and prosecution from nitrate tainted run-off. Plant and soil uptake of nutrients from a biogas plant's digestate can be faster, reducing the risk of watercourse pollution.

Agstar Project Development Handbook

The Agstar Project Development Handbook is a collection of the most up-to-date industry knowledge on ad/biogas system best practices. It covers AD applications and processes, as well as the benefits of biogas, problems, feedstocks, products, economic and financial issues, and more.

Emory University was just named one of 12 beneficiaries of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2020 Sustainable Materials Management Funding Opportunity. This opportunity addresses the problem of food waste being dumped in landfills in the United States by supporting the spread of anaerobic digestion (AD) technology.

Anaerobic waste treatment can be carried out in a variety of ways. Anaerobic digestion has a promising future as the most appropriate procedure for handling food processing effluent, including pig manure, chicken manure, beef and dairy cattle dung, olive oil mill waste, and agricultural waste, according to the results of various research studies (kalyuzhnyi et al. , 1998; zhu, 2000; Bouallagui et al. , 2005).

Until Now US Rural and Semi-Urban Take Up of AD Has Been Low

The majority of rural and semi-urban areas have a negative opinion of anaerobic digestion (also known as biogas or biomethanation). This technology serves people from all walks of life, but it is especially beneficial to farmers in rural areas.

Dairy farmers typically have free access to animal manure (dung), which is used as an input feed for biogas digesters. Normally, these farmers stockpile their cattle's manure to use as plant fertiliser. However, it contains less nitrogen than the digested biogas slurry produced by the methane digestion process, which is odourless and a better fertiliser to replace chemical fertilisers.

Environmental and health concerns frequently stymie social acceptance of the benefits of biogas. The current state of information about the influence of biogas technology is provided and discussed in this paper.

Raw Biogas and Digestate

The current EPA USDA grant announcement highlights the availability of cash and invites submissions for projects that will speed the development of additional anaerobic digestion capacity and infrastructure in the United States. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is the spontaneous breakdown of organic (plant and animal) materials by microbes.

Food waste that would otherwise be disposed of in landfills or incinerators can be managed in AD facilities.

The AD process produces renewable energy (biogas) and a soil-health-improving product (digestate).

Biogas Plant Feedstocks

Municipal solid waste, agricultural waste, sewage sludge, manure, yard waste, green waste, and food waste can all be used to make biogas. Biogas produced by anaerobic processes from organic sources typically contains 45% to 65% methane. After that, it can be processed to eliminate moisture, particles, pollutants, and other gases, bringing the methane content up to 90% or higher for pipeline injection. Renewable Natural Gas is the end outcome (RNG).

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is the preferred strategy for reducing the volume of food waste sent to solid waste landfills while also converting degradable organic compounds into valuable and sustainable products. Ammoniacal nitrogen, a product of the metabolism of microbes involved in ad, inhibits biogas production because it is toxic to the microorganisms responsible for it at high concentrations.

Agricultural Benefits of Biogas Plants

Agricultural biogas systems are typically made up of many cylindrical digester tanks with steel walls or concrete walls. They have a distinctive appearance since they are generally topped by a twin-skinned gas storage bag. The initial digestion tank will create the majority of the biogas, while the secondary digestate storage tank will produce a smaller gas production.

Michael Regan, the administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, recently toured the Des Moine Metro Wastewater Reclamation Authority's biogas processing facility. Raw biogas is converted into renewable natural gas (RNG) here, creating sustainable energy and revenue while lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

In response to the investment in water infrastructure, and the benefits of biogas Regan said,

“...we get a really fantastic product that not only processes wastewater but also considers climate mitigation.”

Biogas is a mixture of gases created by organic matter in the absence of oxygen (anaerobically), with methane and carbon dioxide as the primary components. Agricultural waste, manure, municipal trash, plant material, sewage, green waste, and food waste can all be used to make biogas.

Biogas is a renewable source of energy.

US EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) And the Benefits of Biogas

In July 2020, the US Environmental Protection Agency's Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) released a new report, "An overview of renewable natural gas from biogas", to provide biogas stakeholders and other interested parties with a resource to promote and possibly assist in the development of renewable natural gas (RNG) projects. The document highlights current RNG projects in the United States, including landfills and anaerobic digesters, as well as the possibility for expansion.

The global biogas market was valued at USD 25.50 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to USD 31.69 billion by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.30 percent throughout the forecast period (2020-2027). Biogas is a mixture of gases made from agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste, or food waste as raw materials. It primarily contains carbon dioxide and methane when unprocessed, as well as a little quantity of water vapour and supplied chemicals. However, purifying it to almost 100% pure methane, known as biomethane, yields RNG, a premium product.

RNG can be used on-site at the production facility or pumped into the natural gas transmission or distribution pipes. Raw biogas must be transformed into RNG through a number of stages. Moisture, carbon dioxide (CO2), and trace level pollutants (such as siloxanes, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and hydrogen sulphide), as well as nitrogen and oxygen content, are all removed during treatment.

Why are many developing nations designs of biogas generators underground?

For insulating purposes, traditional masonry biogas plants are buried. Although the ground acts as an insulator, brick buildings above ground would collapse if they were filled with water or digestate. By contrast when in compression circumstances underground, masonry/brick is extremely robust.

Anaerobic decomposition or thermochemical conversion of biomass produces biogas, an energy-rich gas. Methane (CH4), the same component found in natural gas, and carbon dioxide make up the majority of biogas (CO2). Raw (untreated) biogas can have a methane content of 40–60%, with co2 accounting for the majority of the rest, along with small amounts of water vapour and other gases. Biogas can be used directly as a fuel or treated to remove CO2 and other gases before being used in the same way that natural gas is.

Anaerobic Digestion: The Process Benefits of Biogas

Anaerobic digestion produces biogas, which is a renewable energy source. Microorganisms break down organic materials such as food scraps, manure, and sewage sludge in anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion of food scraps creates biogas, which is mostly composed of carbon dioxide and methane, and the solid or liquid residue, known as "digestate," can be used as compost, for land application, or as a soil amendment. (The department's composting standards do not apply to anaerobic digestion).

Project Screening Tool for Anaerobic Digestion (AD-PST)

The United States has launched a municipal solid waste programme (trash initiative) on behalf of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. The Anaerobic Digestion – Project Screening Tool (AD-PST) was created by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to help stakeholders in determining the feasibility of an anaerobic digestion (AD) project. The programme calculates how much biogas and digestate a suggested ad project could produce and assesses the benefits of biogas and digestate's end-use choices.

There are several different types of biodegradable materials (also known as feedstock) that can be utilised in anaerobic digestion, each containing different amounts of energy. Different types of anaerobic digestion systems exist to accommodate for changes in feedstock and to achieve the highest efficiency. Some digesters work in a mesophilic environment, whereas others work in a thermophilic one. There are other digesters that are dry/high solids and wet/low solids. Digesters are normally built to accommodate the feedstocks that will be used.

The Environmental and Energy Research Institute will investigate the advantages of anarobic digestion

Undergraduate students and faculty mentors at Loyola University Chicago (LUC) will design, test, and implement a sustainable process to divert waste streams from campus food, biodiesel, and wetland restoration into an integrated anaeobic digestion (ad) system, which will convert waste carbon into energy-generating benefits of biogas. This unique project aims to not only find a practical use for unwanted and underutilised waste materials on campus, but also to contribute to the developing field of advertising by studying novel waste stream combinations.

Increase the Capacity of Universities with Agriculture or Renewable Energy Programs with USDA-NIFA Grants

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded David kopsell, professor of horticulture at Illinois State University, and assistant professor of environmental health at ISU, a two-year, approximately $150,000 grant. The goal of the USDA-nifa grant programme is to help universities with agriculture or renewable energy programmes create original research, provide educational training, and expand outreach efforts. The energy potential and feasibility of adding anaerobic digestion of plant wastes in small to medium-sized conventional and organic farming composting operations will be investigated as part of this project, which will provide research opportunities for academics and students.

The US Environmental Protection Agency's Re-powering America's Land Initiative

When aligned with the community's vision for the site, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the re-powering America's Land effort to re-use contaminated areas for renewable energy generation. The initiative chose the former Kaiser Aluminum Landfill in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, for a feasibility study.

The initial focus was on deciding on a biomass feedstock. Food wastes were picked as the feedstock and anaerobic digestion (ad) as the technique after discussions with local experts, institutions, and the project team.

Design of Advanced Biogas Plants

A biogas plant operator needed a dependable pump to move extremely abrasive biogas substrate from a primary fermenter to a secondary fermenter. The rotor of the preceding rotary lobe pump was becoming increasingly worn out. It was critical for the benefits of biogas to the biogas plant's operator to have a pump on hand that had a long service life, low wear, and was simple to maintain in the event of a repair.

Inventory of Biomass and Assessment of Bioenergy

A source of potentially sustainable feedstock for bio-refineries is biomass residues or wastes generated in the agriculture industry. The plan toward a bio-based economy will only succeed if enough biomass and suitable characteristics are available, not only to produce bioenergy but also to meet the rising population's food security and health needs. The agriculture sector generates the majority of the biomass produced in India. As a result, having a reliable estimate of the biomass, biowaste, and agro-residue generated is critical for defining policies for their valorization and identifying technologies that could be employed to do so.

The AG Energy Coalition Releases its Policy Recommendations for 2021

The Farm Energy Coalition (AGEC) issued a series of 12 policy suggestions aimed at assisting the agriculture industry in solving the climate catastrophe. The organisation suggests that Congress strengthen existing USDA programmes to better support farmers, small rural companies, emerging technologies, and sustainable energy, according to the statement. They are aware of the numerous advantages of anaerobic digestion.

The Impact of the 2018 Farm Bill on the Biogas Industry

Grants and awards for programmes: The American Biogas Council (ABC), the trade organisation for the United States' biogas industry, issued a statement in response to the approval of the 2018 Farm Bill. The following statement was issued by the biogas industry. Biogas systems recycle organic waste such as food and yard waste, sewage sludge, and animal manure, generating renewable energy and valuable soil products in the process.

Benefits of Biogas Myth #1: "This isn't suitable for hog manure since it is inefficient."

The pork industry is advertising how hog manure can be used for methane digesters, and senators running this bill are misleading other senators around this fact. Hog confinements with more than 13,500 head of hogs can instal factory farm biogas under this bill, and the pork industry is advertising how hog manure can be used for methane digesters.

The 2018 farm bill represents a critical opportunity to address food waste in a way that benefits biogas farmers, consumers, and the environment, and flpc is excited to report that congress has provided major new investments. 40 percent of food in the United States goes to waste each year, costing billions of dollars, preventing wholesome food from reaching people in need, and causing tremendous ecological harm.