Biogas production: current state and perspectives
Anaerobic digestion of energy crops, residues, and wastes is of increasing interest in order to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and to facilitate a sustainable development of energy supply. Production of biogas provides a versatile carrier of renewable energy, as methane can be used for replacement of fossil fuels in both heat and power generation and as a vehicle fuel. For biogas production, various process types are applied which can be classified in wet and dry fermentation systems. Most often applied are wet digester systems using vertical stirred tank digester with different stirrer types dependent on the origin of the feedstock. Biogas is mainly utilized in engine-based combined heat and power plants, whereas microgas turbines and fuel cells are expensive alternatives which need further development work for reducing the costs and increasing their reliability. Gas upgrading and utilization as renewable vehicle fuel or injection into the natural gas grid is of increasing interest because the gas can be used in a more efficient way. The digestate from anaerobic fermentation is a valuable fertilizer due to the increased availability of nitrogen and the better short-term fertilization effect. Anaerobic treatment minimizes the survival of pathogens which is important for using the digested residue as fertilizer. This paper reviews the current state and perspectives of biogas production, including the biochemical parameters and feedstocks which influence the efficiency and reliability of the microbial conversion and gas yield.