Small Scale Methane Generation

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Biogas digester technology can provide energy needs of local government operations by producing methane. About 1.7 cubic meters of biogas equals one liter of gasoline; the manure produced by ONE cow in one year can be converted to the methane equivalent of over 200 liters of gasoline. Cattle, pigs and chickens in the US produce over two billion tons of manure annually. Many high methane output plants exist in the US and Europe. Why not scale the technology from large operations into uses that anyone see benefit?

System solution: Provide from one-quarter to one-third of the energy needs of a small town, from 5 – 10,000 persons, initially in three locations, Northern, Southern, and Midwest US by producing high quality methane gas. This process progressively provides higher amounts of methane gas for the following uses: Stage One: Startup. Produces methane for general addition to grid; Stage Two: Buildup to Operations. Produces methane fuel for municipal vehicles; Stage Three: Operations: methane converted to electricity for municipal power needs (cogeneration). The latter offsets power required for traffic lights, street lighting, etc.

Successful completion of each phase should see a significant expansion of amount of methane produced. This process begins with a recycling process to separate organic matter from inorganic, from: household trash, municipal sewage, gardening trash, and farm/ranch waste. Pros: mitigates high energy cost and potential supply disruptions, increases recycling efforts; decreases landfills, runoff pollution, and carbon footprints from producing petroleum products. Also vehicle fuel conversion to methane is an established process. Cons: Infrastructure for processing recyclables not established, yet, increased use of this process will increase demand for high-quality, commercially-durable biogas digester components.

Conversion from carbon-based waste to methane is a well-known process; facilities can be one design modified to account for local climates. Recommend that portions of these facilities be underground with ability to withstand high winds. Also adequate safety and operational safeguards need to be in place to reduce the risk of fire or explosion which could not only cause loss of life, but would effectively shut down similar programs. This program chooses small towns because generally these are based on an agrarian economy with lots of feedstock for the process; most should collect waste from surrounding areas. Power grids have to be extended to smaller towns at higher cost; products from biogas digesters mitigate that cost. Also relatively cheap suitable land is available. The facilities are easy to build and maintain, are not large and intrusive, and since the area is likely to be agrarian, odors are not unlike those already present. A final benefit is that gasses such as hydrogen sulfide which are natural by-products of the process can be separated and sold to benefit the town.

Part of the campaign is to have cities compete for this technology. Surveys determine which localities would welcome the program; select three winners from those. Distribute progress reports widely to garner support as the benefits become clearer to those who would use such a system.

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  • ABOUT THE ENTRANT

  • Name:
    Kevin Moore, Pe
  • Type of entry:
    individual
  • Software used for this entry:
    None
  • Patent status:
    none