Biogas FAQs – A Glossary of Biogas Related Terms

We hope you find the following biogas FAQs useful.

As in all specialist fields of technology the experts use a lot of terms (special words) which may not be known by the newbie or interested visitor. That’s why¬† we compiled the following table of 55 Biogas FAQs, definitions. A few years ago we would have called this a glossary of the terms often used in our articles elsewhere on this website.

The table below holds the answers to at least 55 “What is…?” questions.

Air PollutionAir pollution occurs when harmful or excessive quantities of substances including gases, particulates, and biological molecules are introduced into Earth's atmosphere. It may cause diseases, allergies and even death to humans; it may also cause harm to other living organisms such as animals and food crops, and may damage the natural or built environment. Both human activity and natural processes can generate air pollution.
Alternative Fuel VehicleAn alternative fuel vehicle is a motor vehicle that runs on a fuel other than traditional petroleum fuels ; and also refers to any technology of powering an engine that does not involve solely petroleum. Because of a combination of factors, such as environmental concerns, high oil prices and the potential for peak oil, development of cleaner alternative fuels and advanced power systems for vehicles has become a high priority for many governments and vehicle manufacturers around the world.
Amine Gas TreatingAmine gas treating, also known as amine scrubbing, gas sweetening and acid gas removal, refers to a group of processes that use aqueous solutions of various alkylamines (commonly referred to simply as amines) to remove hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2) from gases. It is a common unit process used in refineries, and is also used in petrochemical plants, natural gas processing plants and other industries.
Amino AcidsAmino acids are organic compounds that contain amine (NH2) and carboxyl (COOH) functional groups, along with a side chain (R group) specific to each amino acid. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and nitrogen (N), although other elements are found in the side chains of certain amino acids. About 500 naturally occurring amino acids are known (though only 20 appear in the genetic code) and can be classified in many ways. They can be classified according to the core structural functional groups' locations as alpha, beta), gamma or delta amino acids; other categories relate to polarity, pH level, and side chain group type (aliphatic, acyclic, aromatic, containing hydroxyl or sulfur, etc.). In the form of proteins, amino acid residues form the second largest component (water is the largest) of human muscles and other tissues. Beyond their role as residues in proteins, amino acids participate in a number of processes such as neurotransmitter transport and biosynthesis.
AmmoniaAmmonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. A stable binary hydride, and the simplest pnictogen hydride, ammonia is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent smell. It is a common nitrogenous waste, particularly among aquatic organisms, and it contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or indirectly, is also a building block for the synthesis of many pharmaceutical products and is used in many commercial cleaning products. It is mainly collected by downward displacement of both air and water. Ammonia is named for the Ammonians, worshipers of the Egyptian god Amun, who used ammonium chloride in their rituals.
Anaerobic DigestionAnaerobic digestion is a sequence of processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. The process is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste or to produce fuels. Much of the fermentation used industrially to produce food and drink products, as well as home fermentation, uses anaerobic digestion.
Anaerobic OrganismsAn anaerobic organism or anaerobe is any organism that does not require oxygen for growth. It may react negatively or even die if free oxygen is present. In contrast, an aerobic organism (aerobe) is an organism that requires an oxygenated environment. Anaerobes may be unicellular or multicellular.
Biodegradable WastesBiodegradable waste includes any organic matter in waste which can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water, methane or simple organic molecules by microorganisms and other living things by composting, aerobic digestion, anaerobic digestion or similar processes. In waste management, it also includes some inorganic materials which can be decomposed by bacteria. Such materials include gypsum and its products such as plasterboard and other simple organic sulfates which can decompose to yield hydrogen sulphide in anaerobic landfill conditions.
BiodigesterAnaerobic digestion is a sequence of processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. The process is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste or to produce fuels. Much of the fermentation used industrially to produce food and drink products, as well as home fermentation, uses anaerobic digestion.
Biogas Or Gobar GasBiogas is the mixture of gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, primarily consisting of methane and carbon dioxide. Biogas can be produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste or food waste. Biogas is a renewable energy source. In India, it is also known as "Gobar Gas".
Biogas Power PlantsAnaerobic digestion is a sequence of processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. The process is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste or to produce fuels. Much of the fermentation used industrially to produce food and drink products, as well as home fermentation, uses anaerobic digestion.
Biogas UpgraderA biogas upgrader is a facility that is used to concentrate the methane in biogas to natural gas standards. The system removes carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, water and contaminants from the biogas. One technique for doing this uses amine gas treating. This purified biogas is also called biomethane. It can be used interchangeably with natural gas.
BioreactorA bioreactor refers to any manufactured device or system that supports a biologically active environment. In one case, a bioreactor is a vessel in which a chemical process is carried out which involves organisms or biochemically active substances derived from such organisms. This process can either be aerobic or anaerobic. These bioreactors are commonly cylindrical, ranging in size from litres to cubic metres, and are often made of stainless steel.
Carbon DioxideCarbon dioxide is a colorless gas with a density about 60% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide consists of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in Earth's atmosphere as a trace gas. The current concentration is about 0.04% (410ppm) by volume, having risen from preindustrial levels of 280ppm. Natural sources include volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, and it is freed from carbonate rocks by dissolution in water and acids. Because carbon dioxide is soluble in water, it occurs naturally in groundwater, rivers and lakes, ice caps, glaciers and seawater. It is present in deposits of petroleum and natural gas. Carbon dioxide is odorless at normally encountered concentrations, but at high concentrations, it has a sharp and acidic odor.
Carbon MonoxideCarbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless flammable gas that is slightly less dense than air. It is toxic to animals that use hemoglobin as an oxygen carrier when encountered in concentrations above about 35 ppm, although it is also produced in normal animal metabolism in low quantities, and is thought to have some normal biological functions. In the atmosphere, it is spatially variable and short lived, having a role in the formation of groundlevel ozone.
CHPCogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP) is the use of a heat engine or power station to generate electricity and useful heat at the same time. Trigeneration or combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) refers to the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heating and cooling from the combustion of a fuel or a solar heat collector. The terms cogeneration and trigeneration can be also applied to the power systems generating simultaneously electricity, heat, and industrial chemicals ? e.g., syngas or pure hydrogen.
Compressed Natural GasCompressed natural gas (CNG) is a fuel that can be used in place of gasoline, diesel fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). CNG combustion produces fewer undesirable gases than the aforementioned fuels. In comparison to other fuels, natural gas poses less of a threat in the event of a spill, because it is lighter than air and disperses quickly when released. Biomethane? refined biogas from anaerobic digestion or landfills? can be used.
DigestateDigestate is the material remaining after the anaerobic digestion of a biodegradable feedstock. Anaerobic digestion produces two main products: digestate and biogas. Digestate is produced both by acidogenesis and methanogenesis and each has different characteristics.
Effects Of Global WarmingThe effects of global warming include farreaching and long lasting changes to the natural environment, to ecosystems and human societies caused directly or indirectly by human emissions of greenhouse gases. It also includes the economic and social changes which stem from living in a warmer world.
Energy SubsidiesEnergy subsidies are measures that keep prices for consumers below market levels or for producers above market levels, or reduce costs for consumers and producers. Energy subsidies may be direct cash transfers to producers, consumers, or related bodies, as well as indirect support mechanisms, such as tax exemptions and rebates, price controls, trade restrictions, and limits on market access.
FermentationFermentation is a metabolic process that produces chemical changes in organic substrates through the action of enzymes. In biochemistry, it is narrowly defined as the extraction of energy from carbohydrates in the absence of respiration. In the context of food production, it may more broadly refer to any process in which the activity of microorganisms brings about a desirable change to a foodstuff or beverage. The science of fermentation is known as zymology.
Food WasteFood waste or food loss is food that is wasted, lost or uneaten. The causes of food waste or loss are numerous and occur at the stages of producing, processing, retailing and consuming.
Fossil FuelA fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing energy originating in ancient photosynthesis. Such organisms and their resulting fossil fuels typically have an age of millions of years, and sometimes more than 650 million years. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Commonly used derivatives of fossil fuels include kerosene and propane. Fossil fuels range from volatile materials with low carbontohydrogen ratios, to liquids, to nonvolatile materials composed of almost pure carbon, like anthracite coal. Methane can be found in hydrocarbon fields either alone, associated with oil, or in the form of methane clathrates.
Fuel CellsA fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy of a fuel and an oxidizing agent into electricity through a pair of redox reactions. Fuel cells are different from most batteries in requiring a continuous source of fuel and oxygen to sustain the chemical reaction, whereas in a battery the chemical energy usually comes from metals and their ions or oxides that are commonly already present in the battery, except in flow batteries. Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously for as long as fuel and oxygen are supplied.
Gas EngineA gas engine is an internal combustion engine that runs on a gaseous fuel, such as coal gas, producer gas, biogas, landfill gas or natural gas. In the United Kingdom, the term is unambiguous. In the United States, due to the widespread use of "gas" as an abbreviation for gasoline (petrol), such an engine might also be called a gaseousfueled engine or natural gas engine or spark ignited.
Global WarmingGlobal warming is the longterm rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system. It is a major aspect of climate change, and has been demonstrated by direct temperature measurements and by measurements of various effects of the warming. Global warming and climate change are often used interchangeably. But more accurately, global warming is the mainly humancaused increase in global surface temperatures and its projected continuation, while climate change includes both global warming and its effects, such as changes in precipitation. While there have been prehistoric periods of global warming, many observed changes since the mid20th century have been unprecedented over decades to millennia.
Green WasteGreen waste, also known as "biological waste," is any organic waste that can be composted. It is most usually composed of refuse from gardens such as grass clippings or leaves, and domestic or industrial kitchen wastes. Green waste does not include things such dried leaves, pine straw, or hay. Such materials are rich in carbon and considered "brown wastes," while green wastes contain high in concentrations of nitrogen. Green waste can be used to increase the efficiency of many composting operations and can be added to soil to sustain local nutrient cycling.
Greenhouse GasA greenhouse gas (sometimes abbreviated GHG) is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range. Greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect on planets. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ozone (O3). Without greenhouse gases, the average temperature of Earth's surface would be about ?18C (0F), rather than the present average of 15C (59F). The atmospheres of Venus, Mars and Titan also contain greenhouse gases.
HydrogenHydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number1. With a standard atomic weight of 1.008, hydrogen is the lightest element in the periodic table. Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the Universe, constituting roughly 75% of all baryonic mass. Nonremnant stars are mainly composed of hydrogen in the plasma state. The most common isotope of hydrogen, termed protium, has one proton and no neutrons.
Hydrogen SulfideHydrogen sulfide is the chemical compound with the formula H2S. It is a colorless chalcogen hydride gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs. It is very poisonous, corrosive, and flammable.
Internal Combustion EngineAn internal combustion engine (ICE) is a heat engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber that is an integral part of the working fluid flow circuit. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the hightemperature and highpressure gases produced by combustion applies direct force to some component of the engine. The force is applied typically to pistons, turbine blades, rotor or a nozzle. This force moves the component over a distance, transforming chemical energy into useful mechanical energy.
Kilowatt HoursThe kilowatt hour is a unit of energy equal to 3.6megajoules. If energy is transmitted or used at a constant rate (power) over a period of time, the total energy in kilowatt hours is equal to the power in kilowatts multiplied by the time in hours. The kilowatt hour is commonly used as a billing unit for energy delivered to consumers by electric utilities.
Landfill GasLandfill gas is a complex mix of different gases created by the action of microorganisms within a landfill. Landfill gas is approximately forty to sixty percent methane, with the remainder being mostly carbon dioxide. Trace amounts of other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) comprise the remainder (<1%). These trace gases include a large array of species, mainly simple hydrocarbons.
ManureManure is organic matter that is used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Most manure consists of animal feces; other sources include compost and green manure. Manures contribute to the fertility of soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are utilised by bacteria, fungi and other organisms in the soil. Higher organisms then feed on the fungi and bacteria in a chain of life that comprises the soil food web.
MesophilicA mesophile is an organism that grows best in moderate temperature, neither too hot nor too cold, with an optimum growth range from 20 to 45C. The term is mainly applied to microorganisms. Organisms that prefer extreme environments are known as extremophiles. Mesophiles have diverse classifications, belonging to two domains: Bacteria, Archaea, and to kingdom Fungi of domain Eucarya. Mesophiles belonging to the domain Bacteria can either be grampositive or gramnegative. Grampositive bacteria have a cell layer made of peptidoglycan and stains purple. Gramnegative bacteria also contains peptidoglycan, yet the layer is extremely thin and stains red or pink. Oxygen requirements for mesophiles are not just confined to aerobic or anaerobic. There are three basic shapes of mesophiles: coccus, bacillus, and spiral.
MethaneMethane (or ) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula CH4 (one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen). It is a group14 hydride and the simplest alkane, and is the main constituent of natural gas. The relative abundance of methane on Earth makes it an attractive fuel, although capturing and storing it poses challenges due to its gaseous state under normal conditions for temperature and pressure.
MethanogensMethanogens are microorganisms that produce methane as a metabolic byproduct in hypoxic conditions. They are prokaryotic and belong to the domain of archaea. They are common in wetlands, where they are responsible for marsh gas, and in the digestive tracts of animals such as ruminants and humans, where they are responsible for the methane content of belching in ruminants and flatulence in humans. In marine sediments the biological production of methane, also termed methanogenesis, is generally confined to where sulfates are depleted, below the top layers. Moreover, methanogenic archaea populations play an indispensable role in anaerobic wastewater treatments. Others are extremophiles, found in environments such as hot springs and submarine hydrothermal vents as well as in the "solid" rock of Earth's crust, kilometers below the surface.
MethanotrophsMethanotrophs are prokaryotes that metabolize methane as their only source of carbon and energy. They can be either bacteria or archaea and can grow aerobically or anaerobically, and require singlecarbon compounds to survive.
Municipal WasteMunicipal solid waste (MSW), commonly known as trash or garbage in the United States and rubbish in Britain, is a waste type consisting of everyday items that are discarded by the public. "Garbage" can also refer specifically to food waste, as in a garbage disposal; the two are sometimes collected separately. In the European Union, the semantic definition is 'mixed municipal waste,' given waste code 20 03 01 in the European Waste Catalog. Although the waste may originate from a number of sources that has nothing to do with a municipality, the traditional role of municipalities in collecting and managing these kinds of waste have produced the particular etymology 'municipal.'
Natural GasNatural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium. It is formed when layers of decomposing plant and animal matter are exposed to intense heat and pressure under the surface of the Earth over millions of years. The energy that the plants originally obtained from the sun is stored in the form of chemical bonds in the gas.
Natural Gas GridPipeline transport is the longdistance transportation of a liquid or gas through a system of pipes?a pipeline?typically to a market area for consumption. The latest data from 2014 gives a total of slightly less than 2,175,000 miles (3,500,000km) of pipeline in 120 countries of the world. The United States had 65%, Russia had 8%, and Canada had 3%, thus 75% of all pipeline were in these three countries.
On-Site GenerationDistributed generation, also distributed energy, onsite generation (OSG) or district/decentralized energy is electrical generation and storage performed by a variety of small, gridconnected or distribution system connected devices referred to as distributed energy resources (DER).
Organic MatterOrganic matter, organic material, or natural organic matter refers to the large source of carbonbased compounds found within natural and engineered, terrestrial and aquatic environments. It is matter composed of organic compounds that have come from the remains of organisms such as plants and animals and their waste products in the environment. Organic molecules can also be made by chemical reactions that don't involve life. Basic structures are created from cellulose, tannin, cutin, and lignin, along with other various proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. Organic matter is very important in the movement of nutrients in the environment and plays a role in water retention on the surface of the planet.
PhosphorusPhosphorus is a chemical element with the symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly reactive, phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth. It has a concentration in the Earth's crust of about one gram per kilogram. In minerals, phosphorus generally occurs as phosphate.
ProteinsProteins are large biomolecules, or macromolecules, consisting of one or more long chains of amino acid residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including catalysing metabolic reactions, DNA replication, responding to stimuli, providing structure to cells, and organisms, and transporting molecules from one location to another. Proteins differ from one another primarily in their sequence of amino acids, which is dictated by the nucleotide sequence of their genes, and which usually results in protein folding into a specific threedimensional structure that determines its activity.
Renewable EnergyRenewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (offgrid) energy services.
SewageSewage, or domestic/municipal wastewater, is a type of wastewater that is produced by a community of people. It is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical and toxic constituents, and its bacteriologic status. It consists mostly of greywater, blackwater ; soaps and detergents; and toilet paper.
Sewage TreatmentSewage treatment is the process of removing contaminants from municipal wastewater, containing mainly household sewage plus some industrial wastewater. Physical, chemical, and biological processes are used to remove contaminants and produce treated wastewater that is safe enough for release into the environment. A byproduct of sewage treatment is a semisolid waste or slurry, called sewage sludge. The sludge has to undergo further treatment before being suitable for disposal or application to land.
SilageSilage is a type of fodder made from green foliage crops which have been preserved by acidification, achieved through fermentation. It can be fed to cattle, sheep and other such ruminants. The fermentation and storage process is called ensilage, ensiling or silaging, and is usually made from grass crops, including maize, sorghum or other cereals, using the entire green plant. Silage can be made from many field crops, and special terms may be used depending on type: oatlage for oats, haylage for alfalfa.
SilicaSilicon dioxide, also known as silica, is an oxide of silicon with the chemical formula SiO2, most commonly found in nature as quartz and in various living organisms. In many parts of the world, silica is the major constituent of sand. Silica is one of the most complex and most abundant families of materials, existing as a compound of several minerals and as synthetic product. Notable examples include fused quartz, fumed silica, silica gel, and aerogels. It is used in structural materials, microelectronics (as an electrical insulator), and as components in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
SiliconSilicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it. It is relatively unreactive.
SiloxanesA siloxane is a functional group in organosilicon chemistry with the Si?O?Si linkage. The parent siloxanes include the oligomeric and polymeric hydrides with the formulae H(OSiH2)nOH and (OSiH2)n. Siloxanes also include branched compounds, the defining feature of which is that each pair of silicon centres is separated by one oxygen atom. The siloxane functional group forms the backbone of silicones, the premier example of which is polydimethylsiloxane. The functional group R3SiO (where the three Rs may be different) is called siloxy. Siloxanes are manmade and have many commercial and industrial applications because of the compounds? hydrophobicity, low thermal conductivity, and high flexibility.
ThermophilicA thermophile is an organism that thrives at relatively high temperatures, between 41 and 122 degrees C. Many thermophiles are archaea. Thermophilic eubacteria are suggested to have been among the earliest bacteria.
Volatile Organic CompoundsVolatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. Their high vapor pressure results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate or sublimate from the liquid or solid form of the compound and enter the surrounding air, a trait known as volatility. For example, formaldehyde, which evaporates from paint and releases from materials like resin, has a boiling point of only 19 degrees C.
Waste HeatWaste heat is heat that is produced by a machine, or other process that uses energy, as a by-product of doing work. All such processes give off some waste heat as a fundamental result of the laws of thermodynamics. Waste heat has lower utility than the original energy source. Sources of waste heat include all manner of human activities, natural systems, and all organisms, for example, incandescent light bulbs get hot, a refrigerator warms the room air, an internal combustion engine generates high temperature exhaust gases, and electronic components get warm when in operation.

The above definitions have all been copied from Wikipedia (and were current when extracted in January 2020). For the biogas FAQs we made just a few changes to corrections for spelling errors etc.