Bio-Gas Generator Research Project
The BioGas project consists of the design and build of a system that turns bio-waste (i.e. food waste, dairy waste, cow manure, or grass clipping) into electrical power. In most homes, the natural gas used was created from organic matter (plants or other) becoming trapped under water and soils over long periods of time. Anaerobic bacteria breaks the matter down producing a gaseous by-product: methane rich natural gas. A similar process happens in a cows stomach, where the by-product is also a methane rich gas. In this project we are simulating the process that occurs in the cows stomach, and ultimately to generate a gas similar to natural gas. The project is currently being built in the OREC (Oregon Renewable Energy Center) lab by students: Toby Farkas(BSEE/MSE), Jonathan Ruark (BSEE/BSREE),Keaton Bradley (BSEE), Ian Riley (BSREE/BSEE), Jennifer Berdyugin (MSREE), and Juan Villarreal (BSREE/MSREE).
The build has been broken into 5 phases. The first phase of this project is the design and build of an anaerobic digester to produce bio-gas consisting of CH4 (methane), H2S (hydrogen sulfide), CO2 (carbon dioxide), and H2O (water). The second phase is the design and build of a system for removing as much of the H2S, CO2, and H2O as possible, leaving a high concentration of energy dense CH4. The third phase is to modify a gasoline combustion engine to run on the upgraded bio-gas. The combustion engine will turn an electrical generator. Phase four is the production and storage of electric energy. The final phase of the project is data acquisition.
The long term goals of this project are to bring attention to the idea of bio-gas being a worthy alternative to fossil fuels, as well as researching the ability to produce bio-gas from a variety of substrates. We hope that our project and research will help to relieve our dependence on fossil fuels as an energy source, bridge the gap between wind and solar energy production, and allow energy independence for small farms and residences.