Category: Heating

I came across an article on how biomethane from various organic wastes is being tapped on the local scale in rural China and on the municipal scale in Beijing.

Beginning in 2000, the Agricultural Ministry of China has fostered sustainable development by promoting integrated biogas technologies with the goals of protecting ecology and the environment while also increasing farmers’ income. Full-scale projects have been implemented in over 1000 rural counties.

Construction is based on the family unit and is coupled with educational guidance on how to eliminate inefficient crop production practices, and to effectively utilize land, solar energy and biological resources. Rural methane power generation is the most significant piece of this energy-revolution program.

Structural improvements to toilets and animal sheds allow for the collection of human and animal wastes, rice straw and daily trash which serves as the raw material to generate methane. Methane ranges and cook stoves, heating and lighting fixtures powered by home-grown methane do not emit smoke and dust, thus eliminating health hazards often associated with burning raw waste materials or coal.

The liquid and solid remains after the fuel is siphoned off serves as fertilizer to enrich the soil, prevent plant diseases and control pests. Completing the natural cycle by returning materials to the earth in this way increases crop production and eliminates costs of fertilizers and pesticides. It also helps to build the rural economy.

Methane power generation has also been extended into cities in China. Methane is now being collected from the Asuwei Landfill in the Changping District of Beijing and used to generate power. This is the first city landfill methane in Northern China. Not only is it generating useful electricity, it is helping to eliminate odor problems and resolving safety concerns posed by methane emissions from decomposing organic wastes. While improving the environment in surrounding areas, this project is also providing enough electrical power to serve 17,000 families for one year in Beijing!


UK fuel and fertilizer from stable waste

A horse jockey club in the UK has revealed plans to create a biomass power plant run exclusively on horse manure from the stables.

In an article published from, GG Eco Solutions have proposed to install the facility at Jockey Club Estates land at Southfield Farm in Newmarket, UK. The plant will convert stable waste into biomass fuel (to heat nearby schools and businesses), as well as to produce fertilizer for use on nearby gallops, studs and farmland.

Totaling 25,000 tonnes of waste per year, the club has been seeking an alternative method of disposal for years.


Midwest Rural Energy Council

From the Midwest Rural Energy Council’s website:

Anaerobic digesters convert the energy stored in organic materials present in manure into biogas.  Biogas can be fed directly into a gas-fired combustion turbine.  The type of turbine most often used for small-scale electricity production is the microturbine.  Combustion of biogas converts the energy stored in the bonds of the molecules of the methane contained in the biogas into mechanical energy as it spins a turbine.  The mechanical energy produced by biogas combustion in an engine or microturbine spins a turbine that produces a stream of electrons, or, electricity.  In addition, waste heat from these engines can provide heating or hot water for use on farm.

As a fuel, biogas composed of 65% methane yields about 650 Btu per cubic foot.  Often used when designing systems for the anaerobic digestion of manure, these energy estimates can predict the amount of power production per animal.  General estimates predict one kilowatt of electricity production requires five to eight dairy cows.

Lots more good information:

Statistics from the American Biogas Council

  • Over 150 anaerobic digesters are operating on farms in the U.S. (, primarily at dairies and some hog farms. Farm digesters reduce odors associated with manure, as well as pathogens. In addition to generating electricity, heat from gas engines is captured and utilized in farm operations. Many farms also are accepting food waste streams from area generators, which provides a revenue stream and boosts biogas production.
  • More than 1,500 municipal wastewater treatment plants have anaerobic digesters to process the solids stream. Increasingly, these treatment plants are capturing the biogas to offset electricity and natural gas use, savings that go directly to the cities’ bottom line. A handful of facilities are being designed in the U.S. to process organics such as food waste and yard trimmings from the municipal solid waste stream. In September, construction of the first facility got underway in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.


Trash to RNG in Michigan

Landfill Gas to Renewable Natural Gas Project in Michigan

Burnaby B.C., May 5th 2011 – Greenlane Biogas, a subsidiary of the Flotech Group of companies (founded in 1986), is pleased to confirm that it recently has received an order to build two ‘Totara+’ landfill gas upgrading systems to process 3200 scfm (approximately 5150 Nm3/hr) of gas to be injected into a local natural gas pipeline near Detroit Michigan.

Greenlane Biogas, a developer and supplier of proprietary water scrubbing technology which removes impurities such and carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and trace contaminants from landfill gas to convert it to a high methane purity renewable fuel, is supplying the systems to Canton Renewables, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., based out of Seal Beach, California.

more information:

The Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp. (CCEMC)  has announced $15 million in new funding for biomethane and biofuel projects in Alberta, Canada. The CCEMC is funded by Alberta’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund which was created by the Climate Change and Emissions Management Act. Companies that exceed their emission reduction targets pay into the fund which is used to establish alternative=energy and energy-efficiency programs.

One new program CCEMC is funding is the Slave Lake Pulp Bio-Methanation Project. This will integrate an energy-efficient anaerobic digestion system into the mill’s existing effluent treatment system. This new digestion system will both treat mill effluent and generate biomethane. It will significantly reduce energy, chemical consumption and sludge generation. The biomethane produced will be used to generate electricity and heat for use in the pulping process.

How cool is that!

The Natural and Bio-Gas Vehicle Association reports that the UK has become the eighth EU country to inject biomethane into the national grid. Other countries in Europe also adding biomethane to their national grids are Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands,  Norway, Sweden and Switzerland,

The Thames Water Didcot sewage works site is using anaerobic digesters as part of its sewage treatment process.  Technology from Chesterfield Biogas is then applied to remove moisture, CO2 and H2S to produce a clean, dry gas composed of around 97% biomethane.British Gas is buying the  resulting product.

Another new project at the Adnams brewery delivers biomethane from brewery and food waste to the national gas grid. Te project will generate energy to heat up to 235 homes for a year or power a family sized car for 4 million miles. The brewery’s future plans are to generate enough biogas to  power the brewery and its fleet of trucks, then inject the remaining 60% into the national grid.

The UK has also introduced a “Green Gas Certificate” program which will allow the biomethane energy that enters the grid to be tracked and allocated properly to any consumers. This exchange program will allow, for example, supermarkets to have their food waste made into biomethane and injected into national grid, then credited to extract an equivalent amount of natural gas from the grid at a distribution depot and fuel their fleets of dual-fuel CNG/Diesel trucks

For more information:

The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Greenpoint, NY is developing a system to extract biogas, convert it to utility grade, and use it to fuel about 2,500 homes. With the assistance of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, this facility is solving two problems at once! Not only is it helping to resolve serious water contamination problems, it’s helping the community to meet its energy needs!  That’s a win-win solution in my book!

See, e.g.:

For more in-depth coverage, see:

King of Green Gold

Excerpts from The methods of Jean Pain: Or another kind of garden, by Ida and Jean Pain, in English, self-published 1980, 88 pages, photos, out of print.

Until recently, Jean Pain was an unknown. Today, he’s hailed as “the king gold,” and energy experts from all over the globe have come to Domaine des Tenipliers to study the miracle Pain has wrought: an amazingly simple, and incredibly inexpensive system that extracts both energy and fertilizer (gold) from plant life (green). These scientists are hopeful that Pain’s new process will go a long way in helping overcome the worldwide shortage of fuel. …

I knock on the door and am greeted warmly by Jean Pain and his wife, Ida. Jean, I notice, has a wrestler’s build and a hermit’s calm. He accompanies me to about 50 metres from the front door and shows me the object of the world’s attention — a home-made power plant that supplies 100 per cent of the Pains’ energy needs. What I see is a mound, three metres high and six across, made of tiny pieces of brushwood.

This vegetable cocktail, Pain explains, made of tree limbs and pulverized underbrush, is a compost, much like the pile of decaying organic matter that people build in their gardens, using food scraps and leaves. Buried inside the 50-ton compost, he says, is a steel tank with a capacity of four cubic metres. It is three-fourths full of the same compost, which has first been steeped in water for two months. The tank is hermetically sealed, but is connected by tubing to 24-truck-tyre inner tubes, banked nearby in piles. The tubes serve as a reservoir for the methane gas produced as the compost ferments.

“Once the gas is distilled, washed through small stones in water — and compressed,” Pain explains, “we use it to cook our food, produce our electricity and fuel our truck.” He says that it takes about 90 days to produce 500 cubic metres of gas — enough to keep Ida’s two ovens and a three-burner stove going for a year. Leading to a room behind the house, he shows me the methane-fuelled internal combustion engine that turns a generator, producing 100 watts every hour. This charges an accumulator battery, which stores the current, providing all the Pains need to light their five-room house.

As Ida drives off in their truck, I see on the roof two gas bottles shaped like long cannon shells. These have a capacity of five cubic metres of compressed gas, allowing her to drive 100 kilometres. Jean says that ten kilos of brush-wood supply the gas equivalent of a litre of high-test petrol. All that is needed to use it as motor fuel is a slight carburettor adjustment.

We walk back to the compost. Jean points to a- 40-millimetre-thick plastic tube that runs from a well, through the heap and on to a tap inside the house. He explains that compost heats as it ferments, raising the temperature so that cold water, arriving from the well after passing through 200 metres of tubing wound round the tank, emerges at 60 degrees C. I personally confirm that the water arrives cold at the “cake” and comes out scalding. Once inside the house, the hot water circulates through radiators and heats the house. The compost heap continues fermenting for nearly 18 months, supplying hot water at a rate of four litres a minute, enough to satisfy the central heating, bathroom and kitchen requirements. Then the installation is dismantled and a new compost system is set up at once to assure a continuous supply of hot water.

Excerpts republished in Reader’s Digest, November 1981; available online at:

In an article posted May 13, 2010, the Addison Independent reported that Vermont’s Middlebury College entered a preliminary agreement with Integrated Energy Solutions (IES) to introduce biomethane into the college’s portfolio of heating fuel. The project is still in preliminary stages, but it will swap up to 650,000 gallons of fuel oil each year for biomethane gas produced from manure collected from local small dairy farms. Plant wastes may also be incorporated.

The wastes will be combined and fed into a digester to produce biomethane gas which will be burned to generate boiler steam to heat campus facilities. Biomethane may also be used to produce electricity for the college.

For more information, see:

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