What do you usually do with food waste? We know - you throw it out (hopefully in the trash can). Let me tell you what happens next.
This waste is then taken to massive wastelands and gets dumped there. You may think that it isn’t that bad - such food waste will just decompose, it is not plastic - it won’t take hundreds of years to decompose, right? Yes, indeed.
But while it decomposes in these valleys of darkness, full of household waste, it produces something called landfill gas (basically a mix of methane and CO2). If concentrated, it gets highly flammable (with explosions following the concentration). Methane is 21-28 times more harmful than carbon dioxide (CO2) in terms of greenhouse effect. And it stays in the atmosphere for 12 years. That is too much! If you were stuck in a room full of cow farts for 12 years, you would do something about it right? We hope so! (You may ask “why cow farts?”. Keep on reading).
One of the best short-term methods of curbing the global warming is the capture of methane. This brings us to biogas.
It is a renewable energy source, that helps prevent the ejection of methane into the atmosphere. It is possible to produce it by recycling manure, and house hold waste - food leftovers, vegetable and fruit peel and so on.
Let’s take a look at an example. This time our attention got caught by the Danish Solrød Biogas - one of the leading biogas producers in Denmark. What is remarkable about them is their story.
The city of Solrød is situated in a coastal area and the sea was constantly washing in an intolerable amount of seaweed, that was ruining the beautiful beaches and the overall impression, since it was rotting and stinking.
The local commune, together with the landowners decided to do something about this problem. They thought of a simple solution - apply the existing technologies for the benefit of the whole region.
They started collecting the seaweed and organic waste in one specialised center, which was working solely on the collection, processing and purification of biogas that afterwards is applied toward the production of electricity and heating.
Let’s try to simplify the technical side, shall we?
A simple analogy for you. Imagine a cow eating grass. Got it? Splendid. Now try to imagine what happens inside its stomach (I know you haven’t seen it, but try). The food is digesting without any oxygen around it and is then producing two things - biogas (mostly methane) and manure. Now what do we do with this information?
One of the things we can do is to recreate such a process in special anaerobic digesters to produce biogas to support your household, farm or industry (depends on what you have).
Cow poo is used for fertilising the soil. We know it as manure, since it is, apparently, childish to call it cow poo. It makes gardens blossom, but sometimes not fast and good enough so farmers sometimes have to use chemicals and pesticides. The good thing is that with such a biogas that we described earlier, we can recycle the manure as well. Will it also produce some biogas? Of course!
If you ask anyone who works with biogas , whether they sticks to biogas because it is cheaper, they are sure to reply: “No, it is not cheaper. But I do it because I care about the environment. I want to set an example to others. Because it is a solution to the problem of waste management”.
It is huge step, and it plays a part in the global awareness of the opportunities that lie within this sustainable way of living. We sincerely hope that more people in the world follow the example that Denmark sets.
Thus the Solrød Biogas check out many of the Sustainable Development goal in one go. Let’s count them together:
7 - Affordable and clean energy
9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure.
Any additions? Let us know!
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