Biogas use: The latest craze and all the rage?

I have probably read a hundred different articles dealing with biogas or biofuel production and use. I have even written on this myself.

But, it wasn’t until I read an article in The Orange County Register just this morning on the matter and it was from this that an idea popped into my head.

This article written by Jordan Graham is about a program that turns table scraps and yard waste (organic material) through a number of processes, into a product known as biogas, anaerobic digestion being a main one. (For more on anaerobic digestion, see: “Firms food-waste-to-compost, energy ‘recipe’ praised”).

Then I read how, in the same article, incidentally, in collecting the waste in question, trucks were utilized. (Please note: the referenced article, presumed at the time of its release and updating, the said material was being hauled to a Victorville, California-based site to be composted. Then once the so-referenced facility located in Perris, California – whose job it will be to turn such waste into useable biogas in addition to compost – becomes operational, will all such said collected organic material be transported there – please refer to representative sidebar to main article). That said, it wasn’t just the fact that the material of choice – food scraps and yard clippings – will be processed and made into a gaseous byproduct capable of producing energy that caught my eye. It is that the biogas produced will, in fact, power the very same trucks utilized to collect the organic waste that is fueling this program.

Then I got to thinking how in Europe and in the United Kingdom and in London particularly, there has been this dreadful pollution – smog – that the region has been dealing with as of late. The main culprits here appear to be nitrogen dioxide (NO2) the source being diesel engines as well as particle pollution from heating systems, commercial vehicles (taxi cabs) and sites where construction activity is taking place.

With the presumption that the waste collection trucks in Orange County, California are also diesel-engine equipped, in putting two and two together, I thought, especially where NO2 emissions from diesel exhaust is fouling the air, itself causing such a stir the way it has, apparently, and detrimental to human health according to what I’ve been reading in the mainstream press, why aren’t similar programs to the one adopted in the southern California county catching on elsewhere? If they were, think how much the air could be helped, improved!

So cliché I know, but this isn’t rocket science we’re talking about here. As such, I have to wonder why this hasn’t already been contemplated. Or, maybe it has but it is just that, at this stage, further considerations need to be weighed.

Or, perhaps preventing more widespread deployment is on account of perceived or real economic factors. For instance, I read in The Orange County Register also where an added charge is tacked on for the organic waste-pickup and processing services, presumably, an estimated dollar-seventy-two ($1.72) per month. But, even with the added charge, if this means cleaner air and potentially better health for x number of people in an area (county), region or state (whichever the case may be), in the end it should be worth the extra effort and expense. I mean, come on: think about it!

To say this is very much worth looking into further is an understatement absolutely. But, I’ll say it anyway: This is very much worth looking into further.

Not just this, but if agricultural waste could likewise be turned into biogas, there is the potential for this to as well be used in the trucks transporting that waste.

As it happens, in “Air district insists open-field-ag-waste-burning resumption a ‘last-resort’ measure only,” I wrote: “If more waste that would ordinarily end up in landfills can be diverted, directed, destined for anaerobic digestion, landfill space could be freed up for other types of source materials and those could include trees from orchards, vines and prunings from vineyards, etc. And given a long-enough period of time to partially decompose, this too could then be anaerobic digester fodder itself.”

All of which sounds like a win, win, win, win, win!


Image above: Ashley Felton


Department of corrections: In reference to paragraph 4, regarding the waste referred to, it was expressed that such would first be composted at a site in Victorville, California before being sent to a location in Perris where it was to then be turned into useable biogas, that is, when the facility where this was to take place became operational. The above article has since been updated with the appropriate change made.

– Alan Kandel