Biogas is generated by the breakdown of organic matter by anaerobic bacteria and is used in energy production. Biogas differs from natural gas in that it is a renewable energy source produced biologically through anaerobic digestion rather than a fossil fuel produced by geological processes. Biogas is primarily composed of 40-70% methane, 30-60% carbon dioxide, and trace amounts of nitrogen, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide. It occurs naturally in compost heaps, as swamp gas, and as a result of enteric fermentation in cattle and other ruminants. Biogas can also be produced in anaerobic digesters in a controlled plant environment.
Almost all forms of biodegradable organic material can be used to produce biogas. However, manure, sewage sludge, municipal waste, agricultural waste and energy crops are the most common feedstock.
In the first step (hydrolysis), the organic matter is enzymolyzed externally by extracellular enzymes (cellulose, amylase, protease and lipase) of microorganisms. Bacteria decompose the long chains of the complex carbohydrates, proteins and lipids into shorter parts. For example, polysaccharides are converted into monosaccharides. Proteins are split into peptides and amino acids.
Acid-producing bacteria, involved in the second step, convert the intermediates of fermenting bacteria into acetic acid (CH3COOH), hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). These bacteria are facultatively anaerobic and can grow under acid conditions. To produce acetic acid, they need oxygen and carbon. For this, they use the oxygen dissolved in the solution or bounded-oxygen. Hereby, the acid-producing bacteria create an anaerobic condition which is essential for the methane producing microorganisms. Moreover, they reduce the compounds with a low molecular weight into alcohols, organic acids, amino acids, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and traces of methane. From a chemical standpoint, this process is partially endergonic (i.e. only possible with energy input), since bacteria alone are not capable of sustaining that type of reaction.
Methane-producing bacteria, involved in the third step, decompose compounds with a low molecular weight. For example, they utilize hydrogen, carbon dioxide and acetic acid to form methane and carbon dioxide. Under natural conditions, methane producing microorganisms occur to the extent that anaerobic conditions are provided, e.g. under water (for example in marine sediments), in ruminant stomachs and in marshes. They are obligatory anaerobic and very sensitive to environmental changes. In contrast to the acidogenic and acetogenic bacteria, the methanogenic bacteria belong to the archaebacteria genus, i.e. to a group of bacteria with a very heterogeneous morphology and a number of common biochemical and molecular-biological properties that distinguish them from all other bacteria. The main difference lies in the makeup of the bacteria's cell walls.
Thermal Value of Biogas:
The amount of heat supplied by 1 m3 of biogas is 4,700-5,700 kcal / m3.