Strategy & Stakes
From waste to clean fuel
Biogas production is a natural processBiogas is produced by the degradation of organic matter in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic digestion). This degradation, also referred to as methanization, occurs in natural areas like swamps or in controlled areas like landfill containing organic waste. Methanization can be artificially controlled by fermenting sewage sludge, industrial or agricultural crops.
Efficient reduction of greenhouse gasesBiomethane is produced from biomass, is therefore a renewable energy resource and does not contribute to the greenhouse effect. The use of landfill or waste for biogas production can even result in a reduction of CO2 emissions as methane leakage is prevented (the effect of which, as a greenhouse gas, is 23 times greater than carbon dioxide).
Biomethane has a very wide range of biomass feedstockBiomethane can be produced via two different processes – digestion and thermal gasification. Digestion is an anaerobic process where bacteria convert degradable organic matter into methane and carbon dioxide. The feedstock is sewage sludge, household, industrial and agricultural waste. Biogas may also be produced from various agricultural energy crops. The thermal gasification technique allows even wastewood from forests or agriculture to be used to produce biomethane.
Biogas requires upgrading to a high level of methane concentration – biomethane – to be used in cars or to be injected into the natural gas grid. Compared to other alternative fuels, biomethane benefits from the extensive availability of biomass feedstock sources.
Sustainable waste treatment and agricultureProduction of biogas from waste may be a key to a more sustainable waste treatment system. Residual digestion-based products may be used in agriculture as fertilizer. Nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphor and potassium are circulated back into the soil.
Biomethane – an energy efficient fuelA German* study has shown that a biomethane-fueled car runs three times the distance of a car fueled with bio-diesel produced from one hectare of arable land. The distance is 50% longer when compared to ethanol. EUROCAR/JRC/CONCAWE’s well-to-wheel analysis indicates that methane-based hybrid engines provide greater energy efficiency than gasoline and diesel engines.
Biomethane can reduce dependence on oil and secure energy supplyThe conditions for a successful introduction of biomethane for vehicles in Europe are excellent:
- A great potential exists for biomass from urban areas, agriculture and forests.
- The natural gas grid in Europe is very broad.
- There are more than 2,000 filling stations for natural gas vehicles.
- The market for biomethane is very extensive – 600,000 cars, buses and trucks run on natural gas.
*FNR (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe) and BEE (Bundesverbandes Emeuerbare Energie)