As the scientific community pursues new ways of harnessing renewable energy resources, a creative approach to gas production has emerged that makes use of the natural decomposition of organic matter. Biogas, as it is called, is particularly useful in rural and farming communities where there are many sources of decomposing matter, but one of its strengths as a renewable resource is its potential for universal application. Sometimes confused for "green natural gas," biogas is a category of fuel unto itself, though its uses are often similar to more familiar natural gas resources.

How biogas is created

As matter decomposes it emits several gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and sometimes small amounts of hydrogen, nitrogen and hydrogen sulphide. In order to harness biogas, waste decomposition has to take place in an oxygen-poor area, most easily achieved by building a dome-like container. Thanks to this container the gases emitted during decomposition can be trapped and then harvested, allowing them to be converted into fuel.

Once biogas has been trapped it can be used in a variety of ways. In its most basic form biogas can easily be used as a fuel for heating or cooking, and with the right industrial refinement it can even be used to power vehicles or as an alternative to traditional natural gas.

What produces biogas?

Nearly all organic compounds can be used to produce biogas under the right circumstances. Biogas can be harvested from things like crop waste, various plant materials, municipal waste and even human and animal waste. All that's needed is the right infrastructure to harness the gas produced by decomposition.

The benefits of biogas

The best part about biogas production is that it can take place anywhere in the world. Biogas does not depend on region-specific natural resources or special geological formations. If there's the capacity to isolate waste as it decomposes, biogas can be harvested. However, in order for biogas to be used as an efficient fuel there are some technologies necessary for the refining process. In order for biogas to be used as a substitute for natural gas, it must first be cleaned. Once it has been stripped of impurities it can be compressed like natural gas and used in the same manner.

There's another upside to harvesting biogas. By trapping the naturally produced methane and carbon dioxide created through decomposition, commercial biogas production actually prevents those greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. As a result, biogas production is one of the most earth-healthy methods of fuel generation. Not only is fuel produced from a gas that would otherwise be lost, the impact of biogas production is doubled down because of the inherent prevention of that gas being released into the atmosphere.

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