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Need help in planning a big size bio-gas plant

A question from Richard: How can i get help in planning a big size bio-gas plant when source materials could be got from; 200 cows, 170 pigs and 300 students. This gas is expected to be used in kitchen where three meals are prepared every day for 250 students. How big should this be in terms of CC, how much carbon will be reduced from the air. Technically is this proposal viable?


Surely i need to plan a big size bio gas connected to latrine.

Feed material will be got from 200 cows and 170 pigs and from 300 students.

What size can I plan for?

Is this gas enough to use for cooking school meals and lighting, is there a remaining that could be put in cylinder?

richardkizito297 gravatar imagerichardkizito297 ( 2014-11-28 13:26:38 )

2 Answers

Rémi Kaupp

Hi Binaya / Richard,

I do not have first-hand experience I'm afraid, so it would be better if an actual expert could advise. Unfortunately in this case, many designs are for municipal solid waste and less for agricultural + human waste. You should get expert advice before embarking on a biogas idea anyway as these are notoriously complex to manage in order to get the right result.

For sizing, you can use Practical Action's own basic guide (with part 2 here). Part 2, from page 40 onwards, has details on sizing, but this needs more details than what you have asked here. The retention time will be your main factor governing size, and that would be at least 20-30 days for cow and pig manure (if you don't add plant materials), but usually upwards of 40. However temperature also has a big effect (where are you planning this?), as well as the carbon / nitrogen balance.

I suggest you also look at the SuSanA case studies on biogas, some of them have similar inputs as yours.

In terms of emissions, note that you are not reducing carbon emitted: what you are doing is capturing the methane that develops from anaerobic digestion, and instead of letting it go into the air, burning it. This burning releases CO2, but methane is apparently 21 to 34 times worse in terms of greenhouse effects (estimates vary), so this is an improvement. Appendix 1 of this guide shows how to account in terms of carbon management. Biogas plants may reduce nitrous oxide too but this is harder to measure and account for.

Best wishes, Rémi


Hi Binaya and Richard,

the biogas to be obtained could be up to 350 m3 Biogas per day with a methane content of about 60%. This means you could run an engine of around 40 kW size and produce electricity for 80 family homes (European style living).

To bottle the gas you would need to compess to 200 bar and you would need to clean the biogas and upgrade it to pure methane, which is very costly. To be able to do that you would need about 10 times as much biogas.

Where are you stationed. If you are in South Africa we might be able to help you with a training course which we are conducting from 10 to 12 december in Cape Town. More see on our website

Regards Michael Köttner