Biogas in the suburbs: an untapped source of clean energy?

Article


Alexander, Samuel, Harris, Peter and McCabe, Bernadette K.. 2019. "Biogas in the suburbs: an untapped source of clean energy?" Journal of Cleaner Production. 215, pp. 1025-1035. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.01.118
Article Title

Biogas in the suburbs: an untapped source of clean energy?

ERA Journal ID3639
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsAlexander, Samuel (Author), Harris, Peter (Author) and McCabe, Bernadette K. (Author)
Journal TitleJournal of Cleaner Production
Journal Citation215, pp. 1025-1035
Number of Pages11
Year2019
PublisherElsevier
Place of PublicationNetherlands
ISSN0959-6526
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.01.118
Web Address (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652619301350
Abstract

This article explores the potential of producing domestic, home-scale biogas using anaerobic digestion in the suburbs of the developed world e an urban context where currently biogas production is almost non-existent. The current status of food waste management across the globe shows that internationally, cities are increasingly using anaerobic digestion as a central technology at commercial scale to treat food waste and decarbonise through the recovery of energy and nutrients. However, in order to achieve this, it is preferable to separate organic waste such as food waste from other waste streams. Australia currently does not offer any schemes that support source separation of household food waste. Notwithstanding this, there are upwards of five large-scale plants currently treating commercial food waste and substantial scope exists to increase this provided appropriate waste management strategies are put in place. Nevertheless, the absence of food waste management schemes in developed countries may provide an impetus for individuals in urban landscapes to explore the potential of home-style biogas systems to produce energy and biofertiliser using food waste derived from households. This article provides a novel case study of one operator's experience using a domestic system, the ‘HomeBiogas 1.0’ unit, in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. A critical analysis of the system was performed, including a cost benefit analysis of the recently released ‘HomeBiogas 2.0’ unit. The cost benefit analysis indicated that the system could pay for itself in 4.45 years if simply mitigating the cost of natural gas. This payback period islikely to be reduced if the value of fertiliser were included or if use of a HomeBiogas unit allows for disconnection from the gas grid (avoiding service fees), as it did in this case study. The paper concludes by identifying barriers from a technical, regulatory and education perspective.

Keywordshome scale biogas; domestic biogas; urban decarbonisation; food waste; anaerobic digestion; Australia
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020339999. Other built environment and design not elsewhere classified
400499. Chemical engineering not elsewhere classified
401102. Environmentally sustainable engineering
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Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Melbourne
National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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