The triple bottom line of biogas.

For sustainability efforts to be considered viable they need to pass the "triple bottom line test".

The triple bottom line means that a project can demonstrate benefits that are social, environmental and financial.

We believe that biogas projects can easily satisfy these criteria.

Social:

Biogas systems create jobs.  Digesters employ people with design and construction and maintainance  skills across sectors -- from architects and planners to  builders and plumbers and electricians.  The digesters need to be sited, permitted, built, inspected, operated and maintained.  Because they generate energy and fertilizer for decades and never run out of feedstock, they provide a perpetual source of employment. 

Biogas systems involve interdisciplinary expertise. Job training and  retraining for the biodigester sector builds capacity in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) subjects with emphasis on careers in chemistry and biochemistry, microbiology, informatics, and economics.

Environmental:

Biodigester systems trump most other solutions on the environmental axis. In one fell swoop a well maintained biodigester can:

  1. Extremely reduce or eliminate the need for firewood or charcoal.  With this one benefit we eliminate many of the causes of deforestation at the margins, completely eliminate indoor air pollution and smoke from fires (which claim up to 4 million lives a year, particularly the lives of women and children, while blackening homes and utensils with soot), and significantly reduce the amount of time women must spend collecting biomass, allowing more time for child rearing, education and microenterprise activities.  The unparalleled safety of biogas (rarely able to create explosions, non-sparking, easy to extinguish) means much greater safety for families and drastically reduced potential for burns or for fires to get out of control.
  2. Extremely reduce or eliminate the threat or nuisance of vermin and disease causing animals.  Biodigesters do not attract wildlife, neither bears, feral dogs, cats, coyotes and other problemaitic mammals, nor flies or other insects.  As such they solve almost all of the problems associated with poorly maintained compost bins and trash receptacles.  Maintained properly they are odor free (when covered); at worst they smell like cow or horse manure (a barn smell or a swamp smell) .  They do not elicit the "gag reflex" or nausea response.
  3. Extremely reduce the threat of pathogenic microbes.  Properly maintained, and particularly when coupled with aerobic post processing, they elminate 98 to 99% of most disease causing bacteria, even when fed fecal material.
  4. Invulnerable to fluctuating gas prices.  Biodigesters produce a reliable amount of gas when fed the proper amount, and will do so in perpetuam. When fed approximately one fortieth of their volume, the digesters kept at body temperature (about 37 C) can produce their tank volume in uncompressed gas.  Each 5 degrees or so lower than that they produce approximately half that volume.  But if frozen or unfed they simply hibernate and can be quickly revived.  Since food and animal wastes are always being produced, the digester can operate indefinitely and is thus a robust source of clean renewable energy.
  5. Produce no smoke or carbon monoxide.  Biogas burns clean, releasing only CO2 and water vapor that adds no net carbon to the atmosphere.  This makes biodigesters a good weapon in the arsenal against climate change.
  6. Produce an NPK (nitrogen, phosophorous, pottasium) and micronutrient rich liquid fertilizer or "anaerobic compost tea" that is microbially active or "prebiotic".  Biodigesters enable us to create new food from food waste by transforming the "garbage" into a slurry that can be used for hydroponics, aeroponics, rooftop and urban gardens and for soil formation in marginal areas.  The use of bioidgesters to transduce urban organic wastes into "liquid soil" creates the possibility to "close the cycle" and enable cities and communities to produce their own nutritious food in situ without the need for arable land or costly fertilizers.

These are just a few of the chief environmental benefits associated with the biodigestion of organic waste.  Both the fertilizer and the gas can be stored indefinitely, so they can be seen as forms of "solar batteries" to help ensure we can create true solar cities.

Financial:

Reduces waste haulage which costs money.  Saves money by recycling wastes.
Lowered tipping fees by diverting organics from landfill
Lower waste collection expenses (labour costs reduced by more than 50%), waste transport costs reduced by up to 50% (trucking, rail),

Question: 

What are the triple bottom line benefits of biogas?