Small-Scale Biogas Technology
Biogas technology has been used globally for decades, with primary applications for large-scale, high-tech commercial systems in Europe (and limited penetration in the US) and small-scale, low-tech “house-hold” scale systems in Asia. The potential for application of biogas technology on small-scale farms in the US is great for providing alternative means for managing on-farm organic wastes (manure, on-farm food processing) and providing a clean, renewable source of energy for on-farm applications (thermal energy for water heating, food processing, etc.). Making biogas technology a viable option for small farms requires the development of reliable, effective biogas reactors that can be readily fabricated and maintained by farmers. With support from the USDA Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (Western SARE), CSANR developed a project to explore options for developing improved biogas technology for applications in small-farm settings in the US. Resources developed in this project are available on this site.
Featured Project Resources and Publications
A worksheet to facilitate preliminary planning for a biogas plant on a small farm.
Additional Project Resources and Publications
Detailed CAD drawings for improved version of pilot biogas plant developed at WSU.
Journal of Water Environment Research 81:4.
WSU Invention Disclosure.
Liao W., C. Frear and S. Chen, June 2007. This project compiled a literature search for biomass chemical characterization and conducted supplemental laboratory study of forty two feedstocks for 33 parameters such as dry matter, COD, carbohydrates, lipids, elemental and mineral matter, and standard properties such as protein, fiber, pH, etc. A follow-on report will group similar feedstocks, assess potential energy conversion technologies and conduct an economic analysis of feedstock collection and energy production.
Usama Zaher, Dae-Yeol Cheong, Binxin Wu, and Shulin Chen, June 2007. A literature review of current digester technologies formed the framework for designing a bench scale study of a high solids anaerobic digestion (HSAD) system. The study shows that significant improvements in methane production can be attained while decreasing capital costs for facilities. A new digester design is proposed that will optimize methane from organic food and green waste digestion, while recovering nutrients from the digestate.
A presentation on applications of small-scale biogas plants in India.
Craig Frear, Bingcheng Zhao, Guobin Fu, Michael Richardson, Shulin Chen, and Mark Fuchs, December 2005. A biomass inventory and bioenergy assessment of forty five organic resource types across Washington was completed, producing this report and a database with GIS maps (http://www.pacificbiomass.org). Annual production of over 16.4 million tons of underutilized bone dry biomass was found, capable of producing (either by combustion or anaerobic digestion) over 15.5 billion kWh of electrical energy.
Images of small-scale biogas plant. The pilot plants developed for this project were fabricated from steel to facilitate mobility and durability as demonstration units. Actual biogas plants could be fabricated from a number of different materials.