Anaerobic digestion proves to be a beneficial technology in various spheres. Biogas produced is a green replacement of unprocessed fuels (like fuel wood, dung cakes, crop residues). It is a cost effective replacement for dung cakes and conventional domestic fuels like LPG or kerosene. Anaerobic digestion has the potential to meet the energy requirements in rural areas, and also counter the effects of reckless burning of biomass resources.
An additional benefit is that the quantity of digested slurry is the same as that of the feedstock fed in a biogas plant. This slurry can be dried and sold as high quality compost. The nitrogen-rich compost indirectly reduces the costs associated with use of fertilizers. It enriches the soil, improves its porosity, buffering capacity and ion exchange capacity and prevents nutrient depletion thus improving the crop quality. This means increased income for the farmer.
Further, being relatively-clean polluting cooking fuel; biogas reduces the health risks associated with conventional chulhas. Thinking regionally, decreased residue burning brings down the seasonal high pollutant levels in air, ensuring a better environmental quality.
Anaerobic digestion thus proves to be more efficient in utilization of crop residues. The social benefits associated with biomethanation, along with its capacity to generate income for the rural households make it a viable alternative for conventional methods.
Contributed by Ritika Tewari, TERI University, New Delhi