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3-Cubic Metre Biogas Plant a Construction Manual - ebook

3-Cubic Metre Biogas Plant a Construction Manual - ebook
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Very interesting paper on making a family scale BIO gas plant that produces methane from manure. Lots of detail on the design, construction and operation.

40 page ebook in PDF. Line drawings with lots of detail.

Extract from the introduction


Biofuels are renewable energy sources from living organisms. All biofuels are ultimately derived from plants, which use the sun's energy by converting it to chemical energy through photosynthesis. When organic matter decays, burns, or is eaten, this chemical energy is passed into the rest of the living world. In this sense, therefore, all life forms and their by-products and wastes are storehouses of solar energy ready to be converted into other usable forms of energy. The kinds and forms of the by-products of the decay of organic matter depend on the conditions under which decay takes place. Decay (or decomposition) can be aerobic (with oxygen) or anaerobic (without oxygen). An example of anaerobic decomposition is the decay of organic matter under water in certain conditions in swamps. Aerobic decomposition yields such gases as hydrogen and ammonia. Anaerobic decomposition yields primarily methane gas and hydrogen sulfide.

Both processes produce a certain amount of heat and both leave a solid residue that is useful for enriching the soil. People can take advantage of the decay processes to provide themselves with fertilizer and fuel. Composting is one way to use the aerobic decay process to produce fertilizer. And a methane digester or generator uses the anaerobic decay process to produce both fertilizer and fuel. One difference between the fertilizers produced by these two methods is the availability of nitrogen. Nitrogen is an element that is essential to plant growth. As valuable as compost is, much of the nitrogen held in the original organic materials is lost to the air in the form of ammonia gas or dissolved in surface runoff in the form of nitrates. The nitrogen is thus not available to the plants. In anaerobic decomposition the nitrogen is converted to ammonium ions. When the effluent (the solid residue of decomposition) is used as fertilizer, these ions affix themselves readily to soil particles. Thus more nitrogen is available to plants. The combination of gases produced by anaerobic decomposition is often known as biogas. The principle component of biogas is methane, a colorless and odorless gas that burns very easily. When handled properly, biogas is an excellent fueld for cooking, lighting, and heating. A biogas digester is the apparatus used to control anaerobic decomposition. In general, it consists of a sealed tank or pit that holds the organic material, and some means to collect the gases that are produced. Many different shapes and styles of biogas plants have been experimented with: horizontal, vertical, cylindrical, cubic, and dome shaped. One design that has won much popularity, for reliable performance in many different countries is presented here. It is the Indian cylindrical pit design. In 1979 there were 50,000 such plants in use in India alone, 25,000 in Korea, and many more in Japan, the Philippines, Pakistan, Africa, and Latin America. There are two basic parts to the design: a tank that holds the slurry (a mixture of manure and water); and a gas cap or drum on the tank to capture the gas released from the slurry. To get these parts to do their jobs, of course, requires provision for mixing the slurry, piping off the gas, drying the effluent, etc. In addition to the production of fuel and fertilizer, a digester becomes the receptacle for animal, human, and organic wastes. This removes from the environment possible breeding grounds for rodents, insects, and toxic bacteria, thereby producing a healthier environment in which to live.

II. DECISION FACTORS Applications: * Gas can be used for heating, lighting, and cooking. * Gas can be used to run internal combustion engines with modifications. * Effluent can be used for fertilizer.

Advantages: * Simple to build and operate. * Virtually no maintenance--25-year digester lifespan. * Design can be enlarged for community needs. * Continuous feeding. * Provides a sanitary means for the treatment of organic wastes.

Disadvantages: * Produces only enough gas for a family of six. * Depends upon steady source of manure to fuel the digester on a daily basis. * Methane can be dangerous. Safety precautions should be observed.

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