Biogas (or anaerobic digestion) technology is an attractive way to manage organic wastes in a sustainable manner. Organic waste includes a wide range of organic materials obtained from domestic, industrial and commercial operations. Most of the organic waste generated in developing countries is dumped into the landfills where it is not only responsible for large-scale greenhouse gas emissions, but also becomes a health hazard and creates all sorts of pollution.
Source of Organic Wastes
The global food processing industry produces a large number of organic residues and by-products that can be used as biomass energy sources. In recent decades, the fast-growing food and beverage processing industry has remarkably increased in importance all over the world.
The food processing industry consists of the following sub-sectors:
- Processing, preserving of meat and its product
- Canning and preserving of fruit and vegetables
- Manufacture of vegetable oil and fats
- Manufacture of dairy products
- Grain mill products
- Manufacture of prepared animal feeds
- Manufacture of bakery products
- Manufacture of cocoa, chocolate and sugar confectionery
- Manufacture of other food products
- Manufacture of soft drink
Solid wastes include peelings and scraps from fruit and vegetables, food that does not meet quality control standards, pulp and fibre from sugar and starch extraction, filter sludges and coffee grounds. Liquid wastes are generated by washing meat, fruit and vegetables, blanching fruit and vegetables, pre-cooking meats, poultry and fish, cleaning and processing operations.
Pulp and paper industry is considered to be one of the highly polluting industries and consumes large amount of energy and water in various unit operations. The wastewater discharged by this industry is highly heterogeneous as it contains compounds from wood or other raw materials, processed chemicals as well as compound formed during processing.
Biogas from Organic Wastes
Organic wastes, either liquid or solid, are a good substrate for biogas generation. Anaerobic digestion of organic industrial waste is fast gaining popularity worldwide. Over 30 types of industry have been identified as having wastewater suitable to anaerobic digestion treatment, including processors of beverages, chemicals, food, meat, milk, pulp and paper, and pharmaceuticals.
Many industries produce liquid and solid wastes that are suitable for anaerobic digestion, such as food processing, pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals, paper manufacturing and tannery industries. Some of the wastes might be difficult to digest as a sole substrate, but they can be biochemically degraded in combination with animalmanure or sewage sludge. The combined digestion of different wastes is called co-digestion.
A tremendous potential exists for industrial wastes to be anaerobically digested to produce biogas, or fermented to produce ethanol, and several commercial examples of waste-to-energy conversion already exist in different parts of the world. The use of biogas technology is increasing rapidly for industrial wastewater treatment. There are thousands of biogas-based wastewater systems in operation or under construction throughout the world.
Most of the organic waste generated in developing countries is dumped into the landfills where it is not only responsible for large-scale greenhouse gas emissions, but also becomes a health hazard and creates all sorts of pollution. It is a sheer waste of such biodegradable waste capable of generating energy to be sent into the landfills. The anaerobic digestion technology is highly suitable for dealing with the chronic problem of organic waste management in modern societies.
Salman is a prolific environmental writer, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management, sustainability and conservation all over the world.
Salman can be reached on email@example.com.
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