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Anaerobic Digestion

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In the absence of air, organic matter such as animal manures, organic wastes and green energy crops (e.g. grass) can be converted by bacteria-induced fermentation into biogas (a 40%-75% methane-rich gas with CO2 and a small amount of hydrogen sulphide and ammonia). Anaerobic digestion is also the basic process for landfill gas production from municipal green waste. It has significant potential in India as well as worldwide. Anaerobic digestion is increasingly used in smallsize, rural and off-grid applications at the domestic and farm-scale. The rising cost of waste disposal may improve its economic attractiveness. Anaerobic digesters are used both at small-scale and large-scale levels. Small scale biogas for household use is a simple, low-cost, low-maintenance technology, which has been used for decades. It usually concerns rural areas and communities without connection to the grid.

Industrial applications mainly process huge amounts of feedstock. This would require a welldeveloped logistical system for feedstock collection and effluent disposal. The feasibility of such plants depends on the availability of cheap and free feedstock due to costs. (IEA Bioenergy, 2009)

While a significant number of the existing anaerobic digestion plants are processing residual sludge from wastewater treatment plants, many other industries have potential for this. Most small-scale units such as tanneries, textile bleaching and dying, dairy, slaughterhouses cannot afford effluent treatment plants of their own because of economies of scale in pollution abatement. Recycling/recovery/re-use of products from the wastes of such small-scale units by adopting suitable technology could be a viable proposition. Generation of energy using anaerobic digestion process has proved to be economically attractive in many such cases. Overall, power production from anaerobic digestion is quite well established as a technology, though the economics of this route are still evolving.

 

Biomass-based Power Production Methods

 

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