Energy Via Organic Wastes: Russia Develops Innovative Concept

In Russia, the materials needed to produce energy from organic wastes are plentiful, although the practice is not widespread enough. The most common technique involves the digestion of biomass by anaerobic microorganisms, which then causes the emission of biogas, a mixture of methane (50%-70%) and carbon dioxide (30%-50%). Biogas production comes from at least three sources: agricultural wastes, sewage sludge and solid domestic wastes. The astonishing figure of 773 million tons of waste produced every year can magically transform into 62.5 billion cubic meters of biogas, which is the equivalent of 31 billion tons of gasoline or diesel fuel or 106 gigawatt/hour of electric energy!


Unfortunately, this enormous potential still remains a potential and that is the problem. In Russia solid domestic wastes, up to 40% of which are easily degraded organic substances, are taken to dumps. The European Union has banned the dumping of domestic wastes in many of its countries because these wastes produce methane, a greenhouse gas.

It is a fact that 35 million tons of Russian solid domestic wastes can produce 2.1 billion cubic meters of biogas and 2.3 million tons of high-quality fertilizers. Both products of microbial transformation can be successfully used in the municipal economy, but education about how to sort wastes is strongly needed among residents in order for such a program to be successful. Bioenergetics can have wide application throughout Russia, but success in this vein will greatly depend upon the cooperation of financial, intellectual and political sectors of the country.

Time (and energy) will tell.