Basic Facts about Biogas Powered Cars

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Biogas Generation

Biogas is naturally occurring gas that results from the decomposition of organic matter in oxygen-poor environment. Biogas is produced in the manure piles, in the landfills, at the bottom of lakes, bog pits and animal stomachs. The gas produced is mostly methane, with some carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and siloxanes. When biogases, particularly methane, are exposed to oxygen or are burned, they produce energy. This energy is among the most sustainable green energies available today and the use of biogas as fuel has huge potential to replace, at least in part, fossil fuels.

Biogas Applications

Biogas is widely used all over the world for cooking. In many poor countries, biogas produced from manure and sewage is tapped and burned directly, providing free fuel. This type of use of organic waste not only creates energy but is cutting on the amount of organic waste, reducing forest cutting for fuel and enabling poor people to save time they usually spend looking for fuel. There are almost 17 million such systems in China only.

Anaerobic Digesters

An anaerobic digestion is the most commonly used method to produce biogas

The most commonly used method of producing biogas is by using anaerobic digesters. Digesters are devices or plants that are fed with crops like maize silage or all kinds of organic waste, such as manure, sewage sludge and food waste.

In the anaerobic digestion process, biomass waste is converted into methane in a tightly closed airless tank. Methane can then be used as fuel to produce heat, electricity, and to run many applications that use an internal combustion engine.

Many countries, particularly in Europe, are building large-scale digesters to provide biogas for producing electricity, heat and for powering vehicles. The United States spent in 2003 147 trillion btu of energy produced from landfill gas, biogas harvested from landfills.

Biogas Cars

To be used to power vehicles, biogas has to be purified, compressed or liquefied, to replace, or be added, to the natural gas already widely used as car fuel. It is estimated that biogas has potential to replace about 17 percent of petroleum-based fuel.

Compressed biogas is already used in Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and other European countries. In 2007, there were approximately 12,000 vehicles fueled with upgraded biogas. European countries are focusing on gradual replacing natural gas with the biogas in the natural gas vehicles, since no conversion is required and all cars designed to be fueled by natural gas can use biogas instead.

Biogas has an extremely high octane rating of between 120 and 140, offering much more power than the average premium petrol gas. Many car manufacturers are experimenting with biogas and biogas engines. In a 2009 road test, Audi car that was completely fuelled by biogas was able to reach a top speed of 364.6 km per hour. The car was powered by an old 2002 Audi B5 S4 with V6 engine with its capacity increased from 2.7 to 3.0 liter.

The Audi road test shows that the biomas engine efficiency can be extremely high. There is a lot of research going on to produce highly purified biogas to be used in vehicles, to reduce the costs of the production and purification of biogas, to produce higher quality natural gas from biogas, and to increase the biogas engine efficiency and performance.

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Biogas has an extremely high octane rating, which offers more power than the average premium petrol gas