Biogas used to be considered a non-reusable waste product, but over the last decade or so, a number of benefits of the gas have come to light and biogas is now recognized as a renewable energy source for fuel, electricity and thermal energy.
The folks at Unison Solutions in Dubuque, IA have created BioCNG™, a system that converts biogas into a gaseous fuel for vehicles, much like your typical clean natural gas (CNG). Jan Scott, President of Unison Solutions, gave a webinar – “Converting Biogas into Vehicle Fuel” – for Sustainable City Network about his company’s work, the process of turning biogas into usable vehicle fuel and some interesting facts about this renewable energy source.
The customary process for turning biogas into a renewable energy source seems simple enough. A lot needs to be removed from biogas after it has been extracted from landfills and digesters and before it can be used for energy. First, the biogas goes through hydrogen sulfide removal and then it is compressed. The gas needs to be completely dry, and so the moisture removal process is crucial. Once this is complete, the gas enters a Siloxane, Volatile Organice Compounds (VOC) and Carbon Dioxide removal process and then the fuel is ready for use in boilers, turbines and internal combustion (IC) engines. Unison Solutions notes that BioCNG™ is ready for use in CNG vehicle fueling stations and CNG vehicles at this point as well.
Jan Scott presented a bunch of inspiring tidbits about CNG in his webinar. The one that shocked me the most is that the US ranks 17th in the world for number of CNG vehicles on the roads (120,000 compared to more than 15.2 million worldwide). There are several existing reports about how much further along Europe is than we are in the states with these vehicles, but you’ll be interested to know that no European country is in the top five either. Nearly 19% of all CNG vehicles in the world are in Iran! Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, and India complete the top five. Most of these countries are developing nations, yet they’ve managed to bring far more clean vehicles and the infrastructure that supports them to their roads than we have.
In 2011 alone, CNG vehicles offset the use of over 350 MILLION gallons of gas. AND 40% of all waste haulers purchased in the same year were CNG. Imagine what we could do if we took alternative fuel and vehicles a little more seriously in this country. To top this all off, CNG costs at least $1.50-$2.00 less per GGE (Gasoline Gallon Equivalent: 120,000 BTU/Gallon) than gasoline does. That’s huge! (Source: Jan Scott's webinar)
|Source: Unison Solutions|
So, not to sound like a broken record, but we have a lot of concepts and technology out there to get cleaner vehicles on our country's roads. This stuff is far from untapped, but it can certainly seem that way when I look at how much other countries have accomplished in this area. America… let’s do better. Seriously.