Biogas digester systems, also called anaerobic digestion systems, utilize biogas to generate energy. Biogas is a mixture of gases created during the anaerobic digestion of nutrient-rich materials such as animal waste, wastewater sludge, and food-processing waste from farm or industrial sources. Anaerobic digestion occurs when microorganisms break down the organic material in the absence of oxygen. Through digestion, the bacteria generate methane and other flammable gases that can be combusted to generate heat, hot water or electricity. Additionally, the inert material remaining after digestion can be used as fertilizer, bedding, mulch, or potting soil.
Biogas is typically used at the farm or facility where it is produced, but excess electricity can also be sold back to the grid. Large dairy and swine operations have the greatest potential to produce cost-effective biogas from manure, as they can collect and store enough of the liquid, slurry, or semisolid manure used in the biogas system. Food processors, landfills, and wastewater treatment facilities can generate renewable energy from their own waste products by using the biogas digester system, providing both energy and waste handling benefits to the system owner.
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