Photo by V. Miller
May 4, 2005
Harvesting Biogas from Manure
Biogas Production from Bovine Excrement Using an Anaerobic Digester
Kevin Nelson Lane, 14, Flora Vista, N.M.
Animal Planet "Emergency Vets" Award, Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge, 2004
Project background: Kevin toured his local wastewater treatment plant and discovered that the plant was harvesting biogas from organic sludge. He had read that cow flatulence contains methane, and he began devising a scheme to harvest biogas from cow manure.
Tactics and results: Kevin collected cow manure and divided it up into 1,000-gram batches. He placed each batch and 250 milliliters of distilled water in metal tubes or "digesters," and vacuum-pumped each digester to remove all air. He incubated the digesters at 100 degrees Celsius and then collected and measured the amount of gas generated by each digester.
Weekly depressurization of the digesters produced the most methane.
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