When we talk about transitioning away from fossil fuels towards renewable alternatives, we often think of coal and gas as options to avoid because of the emissions they cause.
While natural gas might sound environmentally friendly, when it is burned to produce the energy it releases carbon dioxide, which is the worst of the greenhouse gases due to its impact on climate change. Fracking is required to access natural gas as well, which can cause underwater contamination and depletion.
Renewable natural gas (RNG) is a completely different form that is sourced from decomposing biological materials and qualifies as an advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard. It is completely interchangeable with its liquefied counterpart LNG, which makes it a much cleaner form of energy production.
Here are five things that you may not have known about RNG:
It can be generated by landfill
You can literally create RNG from trash. When bacteria begins to break down organic materials like wastewater sludge, food scraps and manure, gases are released which can be purified into clean methane.
It can also be sourced from decomposition on forest floors, although landfills are the primary source of RNG at present.
You can substitute diesel with RNG
Diesel emissions are not only bad for the environment, but bad for your health as well, having been linked to a range of diseases and conditions. It is also a major pollutant and impacts soil, water and the air, so it is not a desirable energy source.
Diesel engines can achieve higher torque at lower speeds, which makes them popular for heavy and industrial vehicles, but you can substitute these diesel engines with RNG engines for the same result.
In some places in America, the use of RNG in heavy-duty vehicles has been mandated like under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
RNG could provide 10 per cent of the USA’s energy needs
While there is a limited amount of biomatter than will produce RNG, the combination of landfills and forest floors could produce enough RNG to make up to 11 per cent of natural gas consumption.
When you factor in crop residue from agricultural operations, experts predict that the US alone could produce up to 3600 billion cubic feet of biomethane.
It fights climate change in two ways
Firstly, the gases that were escaping landfills, forest floor and farming operations were not being captured to begin with, so they present a hazard unless they are captured and purified correctly.
Secondly, every time RNG replaces a diesel engine or natural gas supply, that means fewer emissions are being pumped into the atmosphere.
It is the gift that keeps on giving
On top of the environmental benefits that RNG delivers compared to LNG, the process of creating this biofuel creates a range of by-products that can be used for a variety of purposes.
This includes quality fertiliser for home use and also for crops, mulch and hygienic bedding for livestock. This means that those in the agricultural industry can gain access to completely eco-friendly fertiliser solutions with no chemicals.