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Production of clean energy by anaerobic digestion of phytomass--New prospects for a global warming amelioration technology


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  • Abbasi, Tasneem
  • Abbasi, S.A.
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    Anaerobic digestion of animal dung generated combustible gas - this fact has been known since over 130 years and has been gainfully utilized in generating clean energy in the form of methane-rich 'biogas'. During 1970s it was found that aquatic weeds and other phytomass, if anaerobically digested, also produced similarly combustible 'bio' gas. It raised great hopes that anaerobic digestion of phytomass will also enable generation of biogas that too on a much larger scale than is possible with animal manure. This, it was hoped, would also provide a means for utilizing weeds, crop wastes, and biodegradable municipal solid waste which otherwise cause environmental pollution. It appeared to be a 'no lose' possibility; it was hoped that soon the problems of weeds (and other biosolid wastes) as well as energy shortage, would vanish. At that time there was little realization of the global warming (GW) potential of methane nor of the fact that natural degradation of phytomass in the environment is causing massive quantities of GW gas emission. Hence, at that time, the potential benefits from anaerobic digestion of phytomass were perceived only in terms of pollution control and energy generation. But four decades have since elapsed and there is still no economically viable technology with which weeds and phytowastes can be gainfully converted to energy. This paper takes a look at what has happened and why. It also points towards the possibility of success finally emerging on the horizon. It would, hopefully, give a fresh impetus to the entire field of biomethanation R&D because all 'methane capture' technologies also indirectly contribute to very significant reduction in global warming.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

    Volume (Year): 14 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 6 (August)
    Pages: 1653-1659

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:14:y:2010:i:6:p:1653-1659

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    Keywords: Anaerobic digestion Biogas Global warming Manure Methane Phytomass;


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    Cited by:
    1. Abbasi, Tasneem & Abbasi, S.A., 2011. "Small hydro and the environmental implications of its extensive utilization," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 2134-2143, May.
    2. Abbasi, Tasneem & Abbasi, S.A., 2012. "Formation and impact of granules in fostering clean energy production and wastewater treatment in upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 1696-1708.
    3. Abbasi, Tasneem & Abbasi, S.A., 2011. "'Renewable' hydrogen: Prospects and challenges," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 3034-3040, August.
    4. Mahlia, T.M.I. & Tohno, S. & Tezuka, T., 2012. "History and current status of the motor vehicle energy labeling and its implementation possibilities in Malaysia," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 1828-1844.
    5. Zheng, Y.H. & Wei, J.G. & Li, J. & Feng, S.F. & Li, Z.F. & Jiang, G.M. & Lucas, M. & Wu, G.L. & Ning, T.Y., 2012. "Anaerobic fermentation technology increases biomass energy use efficiency in crop residue utilization and biogas production," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(7), pages 4588-4596.
    6. Cai, Ting & Park, Stephen Y. & Racharaks, Ratanachat & Li, Yebo, 2013. "Cultivation of Nannochloropsis salina using anaerobic digestion effluent as a nutrient source for biofuel production," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 486-492.
    7. Abbasi, Tasneem & Tauseef, S.M. & Abbasi, S.A., 2012. "Anaerobic digestion for global warming control and energy generation—An overview," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 3228-3242.
    8. Premalatha, M. & Abbasi, Tasneem & Abbasi, Tabassum & Abbasi, S.A., 2011. "Energy-efficient food production to reduce global warming and ecodegradation: The use of edible insects," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(9), pages 4357-4360.


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