Why biomethane matters more than ever to achieve the energy transition and reverse climate change
What is Biomethane?
Biomethane is created from biogas, which can be derived from a wide range of feedstock sources. Agricultural, industrial, and municipal feedstocks have considerable biomethane potential. Biomethane is also often called renewable natural gas.
Biogas is a gas mixture composed of methane, CO2, and trace amounts of other gases created by anaerobic digestion of organic waste in an oxygen-free environment. The specific composition of biogas is determined by the kind of feedstock used and the production process, which includes the following major technologies:
- Biodigesters are sealed devices (e.g. containers or tanks) in which naturally occurring microorganisms break down organic material diluted in water. Prior to using biogas, contaminants and moisture are normally eliminated.
- Systems for recovering landfill gas: Biogas is produced during the anaerobic decomposition of municipal solid waste (MSW) in landfill sites. Pipes and extraction wells, combined with compressors, may be used to induce flow to a central collecting point.
- Wastewater treatment plants: These facilities can recover organic matter, sediments, and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from sewage sludge. With further treatment, sewage sludge may be utilized to create biogas in an anaerobic digester.
Biomethane is the renewable, green twin of natural gas
Because it is indistinguishable from natural gas, it may be utilized without requiring any modifications to transmission and distribution infrastructure or end-user equipment, and it is entirely compatible with natural gas vehicles.
How biomethane is made
Biomethane, also known as renewable natural gas, is a near-pure methane source created either by upgrading biogas (a process that eliminates any CO2 and other pollutants present in the biogas) or by gasifying solid biomass followed by methanation
This accounts for over 90% of all biomethane generated globally today. Upgrading methods use the weight difference of the various gases included in biogas to separate them, with water scrubbing and membrane separation accounting for about 60% of worldwide biomethane output today.
Thermal gasification of solid biomass with subsequent methanation
In a low-oxygen environment, woody biomass is initially broken down at high temperatures (700-800°C) and high pressure. Under these circumstances, the biomass is transformed into a gas mixture that mostly consists of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and methane (sometimes collectively called syngas). This syngas is cleansed to eliminate any acidic or corrosive components before being converted into a pure stream of biomethane. A catalyst is then used in the methanation process to induce a reaction between the hydrogen and carbon monoxide or CO2 to form methane. At the conclusion of this operation, any residual CO2 or water is eliminated
Why biomethane is a valuable building block for the global energy transition
Stopping methane emission
Biomethane from manure would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere, where it is an 80 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. When instead it is used as a fuel or turned into a specialty fluid, its emissions are reduced as no more methane is emitted to the atmosphere.
Keep using existing assets
Utilization of existing industrial-scale technology assets: the most widely used technology for producing grey hydrogen today is Steam Methane Reforming (SMR); existing assets could be used as-is without modification as biomethane is chemically identical to fossil natural gas.
As biomethane can be produced in a decentralized way, it helps to become independent from natural gas production and imports and the geopolitics that come with it. Recent market price fluctuations for natural gas have shown that biomethane can be cheaper than natural gas even when subsidies are excluded.
Think Big & Execute Now
Prioritize economics over doctrine. We believe in and only follow the truth. Only facts and evidence are accepted in the thinking that shapes our path forward. Bold moves create results, and we make them by taking calculated risks. Our solutions are happening now, not 2050.
Guiding Principle #2 of the LTZ Energy Solutions Operating System
So what is so controversial about biomethane?
Climate change is a touchy subject. There are many opinions and convictions about biomethane out there. Many people believe that if you are pro-cattle farming you are anti-climate change. We understand how you could come to that conclusion and whole-heartedly disagree. At LTZ we approach climate change and the need to reverse these changes based on science and facts because we believe in following the truth and being aware of your biases.
Equally, we are fully on board to fight climate change. In fact, this company was founded solely with that goal in mind. Instead of taking a side we approach every problem with the conviction that it can be part of a solution rather than something that needs to be eliminated. Many mammoth initiatives have to be realized to help reverse climate change, or at least stop its progression until 2050.
Our approach, to turn problems into solutions, is reflected in how we look at biomethane. The often repeated phrase that all the cows in the world emit as much green house gases as the construction and transportation sector combined is true. So why not start here?
Meat consumption globally is going up and this trend will likely continue in the coming decades as there is a growing middle class in emerging nations hungry (pun intended) for beef, poultry, and other animal proteins. While new meat alternatives can be very tasty alternatives (we love some of them, too), the world will not be able to ramp up the production of these substitutes fast enough to offer it to everyone at the price they are ready, willing, able to pay. So cows are here to stay.
With cows here to stay, it only makes sense to solve this problem now. The problem, the cows' enormous methane output, is real and it's also an opportunity as methane is a valuable resource that can help facilitate and accelerate the energy transition. Rather than trying to prohibit and shame the problem that is here to stay, we believe in finding solutions that can be implemented today.
Turning a challenge into an opportunity
Outlawing cattle farming, or beef altogether will not solve anything. We need to keep in mind that farms, small and on an industrial scale, provide products, jobs , and income for communities worldwide. In other words, we believe you can "have your steak and eat it too". The ultimate win-win-win situation is possible.
Note: We are aware that some people might disagree with us here and we appreciate that. All we ask is that you do your homework, speak to a scientist, and keep it respectful.
How renewable natural gas is part of the solution
Biomethane, or renewable natural gas, in general will be an essential part in the energy transition and a step closer to a carbon-neutral economy. Manure-based biomethane will do even more. Because of its origin it will help in the following ways, too.
Leveraging existing assets
Biomethane from manure is an existing resource that is readily available at cattle farms. Besides meat and dairy products, the biomethane produced at the farm can be used to make carbon-negative green hydrogen.
Tapping into something that is already there saves valuable resources in terms of new construction, building materials, and, most importantly, costly infrastructure. Keeping on working existing assets also creates revenue stability for operations that face seasonality or intermittence.
Creating renewable energy jobs
There are more jobs created by renewable energy than are vanishing in transitional energy sectors. This is the nature of the beast and we fully embrace it by helping skilled individuals from the energy sector to transition to renewable energy jobs.
As something new is created it will grow. So are the number of renewable energy jobs. Some estimates from IRENA and ILO go as far as predicting that we might see more than 25 million new jobs in renewable energy by 2030.
Decarbonizing essential industries
At LTZ we assume that everyone is equally interested and committed in reversing climate change as we are.
We know that some industries, by design, will have a harder time to decarbonize. Think transportation, shipping, manufacturing, or other heady-industry. Our mission is to help these organizations truly decarbonize with our products. Like any other fully inclusive effort, we cannot leave anyone behind. All of these industries are here to stay and we are working on solutions for today, not 2050.
Learn more about our great products made from biomethane
We are the proud manufacturer of LTZ Green DEF ™, which is entirely made from biomethane and this the only carbon-negative diesel exhaust fluid available today.
Discover how transport companies can decarbonize today
More and more owners and operators of Diesel fleets are wondering how they can reduce their footprint immediately as the demands to reduce are placed on them today. Read our newest white paper to find our what options exists, what works today, and meet your climate goals while not changing anything operationally