Gobar Gas: Experiments in Renewable Energy Sources

Ram Bux Singh writes about his experiments in India creating renewable energy sources using methane gas from cow manure.

| November/December 1971

It's been a wild, exciting ride . . . but our blindly wasteful squandering of the planet's fossil fuels will soon be a thing of the past. In the United States alone (the worst example, perhaps, but not really unusual among "modern" nations), every man, woman and child consumes an average of three gallons of oil each day. That's well over two hundred billion gallons a year.

If we continue burning off petroleum at only this rate—which isn't very likely since population is climbing and the big oil companies remain chained to "sell-more-tomorrow" economics—-experts predict the world will run out of refinable oil within (are you ready for this?) 30 years.

So where does that leave us? Well, number one, we obviously must get serious about population control and per-capita consumption of power and, number two, if we don't want to see brownouts and rationing of the power we do use . . . we'd better start looking around for ecologically-sound alternative sources of energy.

And there are alternatives. One potent reservoir that's hardly been tapped is methane gas.

Hundreds of millions of cubic feet of methane—sometimes called "swamp" or bio-gas—are generated every year by the decomposition of organic material. It's a near-twin of the natural gas that big utility companies pump out of the ground and which so many of us use for heating our homes and for cooking. Instead of being harnessed like natural gas, however, methane has traditionally been considered as merely a dangerous nuisance that should be gotten rid of as fast as possible. Only recently have a few thoughtful men begun to regard methane as a potentially revolutionary source of controllable energy.

And with good reason. Population pressure has practically eliminated India's forests, causing desperate fuel shortages in most rural areas. As a result, up to three-quarters of the country's annual billion tons of manure (India has two cows for every person) is burned for cooking or heating. This creates enormous medical problems—the drying dung is a dangerous breeding place for flies and the acrid smoke is responsible for widespread eye disease—and deprives the country's soil of vital organic nutrients contained in the manure.

Sarfraz Ahmad
5/22/2009 6:47:44 AM

Dear Sir, How can i get detailed information about biogas technology?

12/6/2008 8:45:25 AM

sir, I wish to know the source from where I can get a comprehensive information on performance evaluation of a bio gas plant along with the experimental results/data of the evaluation.

11/16/2007 10:51:51 PM

sir I am very happy to find so much information on gobar gas in this site and I request you to please send me the full address of this site and telephone details of the above person so I wish to purchase the booklets and need more information on how to build a gobar gas plant as I have got 5acres of farm land land and some cows thanking you R.Ravindra babu

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