Role of Gas Analysis in the Future of Biogas

Although subject to fierce debate over the last few decades, there is now a global scientific consensus that the earth’s climate is warming at an unsustainable rate. Data gathered by Berkeley Earth, the Japanese Meteorological Agency, the Met Office Hadley Centre, NASA, and the NOAA National Climactic Data Centre shows a consistent trend of long-term global rising temperatures. With precise environmental gas analysis, these agencies and others have been able to inextricably link the current changing climate to human industrial processes.

A statement from eighteen scientific associations in America claimed:

Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.

Demonstrations around the world have brought climate change into the spotlight, most recently causing the UK Parliament to declare an official climate emergency. While there is no accepted definition as to what constitutes a climate emergency, nor what must be done to correct the course of climate change, the overriding drivers behind climate change movements are to push towards carbon neutrality and sustainable energy. While gas analysis has already proven instrumental in historic and ongoing environmental studies, it has also been pivotal in the push towards achieving commercially-viable clean energy sources.

What is Biogas?

Alongside solar and wind farms, interest in biogas has gained significant momentum. It is predicted to be one of the most powerful sources of renewables currently available to us.

Biogas technologies provide a novel method for the controlled treatment of organic materials as varied as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant materials, sewage, and food waste to produce methane-rich biogas that can be utilised as a clean source of energy. Gas analysis is subsequently vital for acquiring real-time insights into critical gas species and diagnosing suitable biogas utilisations. Appropriate biogas species can directly replace fossil fuels in both heat and power generation.

Biogas is produced via a family of processing techniques known as anaerobic digestion. This refers to both wet and dry fermentation methods, where waste products are broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. These processes can occur naturally in landfills but are performed in a controlled environment using anaerobic digesters. Wet fermentation typically utilises a stirring mechanism within the digester to facilitate the desired chemical reactions.

Importance of Gas Analysis in Anaerobic Digestion

One of the drawbacks of biogas generation is the that fact leaks will cause air pollution akin to natural gas generation. Exhausted emissions from inefficient biogas combustion would also result in methane being expelled into the atmosphere, which is a particularly harmful greenhouse gas. It is important, therefore, that distinct feedstocks are characterised in-depth to measure critical gas species production and ensure optimal process control for a new generation of clean fuel.

Hiden Analytical offers the QIC series gas analysis systems for on-line monitoring of biogas processes. With multi-gas-stream capabilities and rapid flow rates, the QIC MultiStream can assist with real-time analysis of multiple species simultaneously, providing insights into critical species as varied as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, hydrogen sulphide, and methane with a dynamic range of measurement from PPM to 100%.

The QIC MultiStream gas analysis system has already proven useful in catalytic reforming, biomass treatment, and fuel gas desulfurization. Each of these processes is instrumental in identifying suitable eco-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels in order to help correct the course of global warming.

If you would like to learn more, contact a member of the team directly.

References:

Scientific Consensus: Earth’s Climate is Warming, NASA (https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/)