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Biogas is a gaseous fuel produced by the decomposition of organic matter (biomass). Under anaerobic conditions, bacteria feed on waste organic products, such as animal manure and straw, and make them decay. The product formed from this decay is called biogas, which consists mainly of methane, though other gases such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, etc, may also be produced in very small quantities.

The biogas produced can be used as a fuel for cooking, heating, etc.
Raw materials for biogas production may be obtained from a variety of sources, which include livestock and poultry wastes, crop residues, food processing and paper wastes, and materials such as aquatic weeds, water hyacinth, filamentous algae, and seaweeds.
The organic waste products are fed in a biogas plant. Prior to feeding the material into the plant, the raw material (domestic poultry wastes and manure) to water ratio should be adjusted to 1:1 i.e. 100 kg of excreta to 100 kg of water. Then adequate population of both the acid-forming and methanogenic bacteria are added.

The bacteria anaerobically feed on the liquid slurry in the digester. The major product of this microbial decomposition is biogas, which largely contain methane gas. The gas so produced is collected in the gas holder and then taped off. The gas is used as a fuel for cooking, heating and other general purposes.

The biological and chemical conditions necessary for biogas production.

Domestic sewage and animal and poultry wastes are examples of the nitrogen-rich materials that provide nutrients for the growth and multiplication of the anaerobic organisms. On the other hand, nitrogen-poor materials like green grass, maize stovers, etc are rich in carbohydrates that are essential for gas production. However, excess availability of nitrogen leads to the formation of ammonia gas, the concentration of which inhibits further microbial growth. This can be corrected by dilution or adding just enough of the nitrogen-rich materials at the beginning.
In practice it is important to maintain, by weight, a C:N close to 30:1 for achieving an optimum rate of digestion. The C:N can be manipulated by combining materials low in carbon with those that are high in nitrogen, and vice versa.

A pH range for substantial anaerobic digestion is 6.0 – 8.0. Efficient digestion occurs at a pH near to neutral (pH 7.0). Low pH may be corrected by dilution or by addition of lime.

To ensure maximum digestion, stirring of the fermentation material is necessary. Agitation (stirring) can be done either mechanically with a plunger or by means of rotational spraying of fresh organic wastes. Agitation ensures exposure of new surfaces to bacterial action. It also promotes uniform dispersion of the organic materials throughout the fermentation liquor, thereby accelerating digestion.

Construct a model of biogas plant.

The biogas plant consists of two components: the digester (or fermentation tank) and a gas holder. The digester is a cube-shaped or cylindrical waterproof container with an inlet into which the fermentable mixture is introduced in the form of liquid slurry. The gas holder is normally an airproof steel container that floats on the fermentation mix. By floating like a ball on the fermentation mix, the gas holder cuts off air to the digester (anaerobiosis) and collects the gas generated. As a safety measure, it is common to bury the digester in the ground or to use a green house covering.



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