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What is an Anaerobic Decomposition?

Definition

Anaerobic Decomposition, or Anaerobic Digestion, is renewable energy technology, where organic materials are placed in a container and are broken down by microorganisms to create Biogas.

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The containers where the materials are stored are called anaerobic digesters. These systems are able to handle a vast variety of organics such as livestock manure, municipal wastewater solids, and even fats, oils and greases. The materials in the anaerobic digesters break down, releasing a variety of gases such as methane. These gases can be processed into Biogas, which can be used for heating and electricity, a replacement for natural gas, or as a new fuel source for transport.

In an anaerobic decomposing process, the materials are encased in the anaerobic digesters and sealed from oxygen. The organisms begin breaking down the materials into sugars to make them accessible to other bacteria. This second group of bacteria then converts these sugars into carbon dioxide, hydrogen, ammonia, and organic acids. After this, a third step occurs, methanogens convert these gases into methane and carbon dioxide.

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Other Sources

“Anaerobic Digestion Basics.” Energy.gov. http://energy.gov/eere/energybasics/articles/anaerobic-digestion-basics. Accessed July 5, 2016.

American Biogas Council. “What is Anaerobic Digestion.” American Biogas Council. https://www.americanbiogascouncil.org/biogas_what.asp. Accessed July 5, 2015.

DeBruyn, Jake and Don Hilborn. “Anaerobic Digestion Basics.” Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/07-057.htm. Accessed July 5, 2016.

M. Charles Gould. “Bioenergy and Anaerobic Digestion” Bioenergy. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/anaerobic-digestion. Accessed September 5, 2019.