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Biogas safety: Procedures and equipment

Posted on March 30th, 2023

If you are familiar with renewable energy, you’ve probably heard of Biogas before; it’s becoming more and more popular across the world. It’s produced through the anaerobic digestion of organic materials, such as agricultural waste, food scraps, and sewage, and can be used for electricity generation, heating, and transportation.

Despite its obvious benefits, biogas is a hazardous substance that requires careful handling to ensure safety.

Biogas flammability and hazards

Biogas is primarily composed of methane gas, which is of course highly flammable, but it also contains carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, and ammonia, which can be toxic in high concentrations. These properties of biogas make it a hazardous substance that requires special precautions to be taken when handling, storing and transporting it.

Biogas can ignite and explode if released in an enclosed space without proper ventilation. It can also displace oxygen in the air, leading to asphyxiation and the toxic gases in biogas can cause poisoning, if you inhale too much.

Mitigating biogas safety concerns

Plenty of solutions have been developed to ensure safe handling of biogas, including the design and construction of storage tanks and pipelines, monitoring systems to detect leaks and other hazards, emergency response planning and training, and defining best practices for handling biogas in different settings.

3B b100 biogas valve

When constructing storage tanks and pipelines, they need to be designed specifically to handle biogas, which means using materials that are resistant to corrosion and compatible with biogas. During construction, proper ventilation must be put in place, for example, an emergency relief manway, The B400D Digester Manway relieves vapour in an emergency.

At this stage of construction, it’s vital that the appropriate valves are used to prevent leaks. Featuring stainless steel lapped seats and double-skimmed, anti-static PTFE diaphragms, the B100 biogas valve ensures high-sealing and minimal leakage, exceeding that required by API 2000 seventh Edition / ISO 28300.

Biogas hazard detection

Once the tanks and pipelines are up and running, they must be inspected and maintained regularly to ensure that they are in good condition and functioning as intended. Monitoring systems can be used to detect leaks and other hazards. These systems can include sensors that detect gas levels and flow rates, which will trigger an alarm if needed.

Should a situation arise, emergency response planning and training are crucial to ensure that personnel are prepared to respond in the event of an emergency. Therefore, conducting regular safety drills, and providing personnel with appropriate training on safety procedures is vital. These situations may require the use of personal protective equipment, such as respirators and safety goggles, as well as appropriate ventilation and fire suppression systems and operators should be trained to identify potential safety hazards and act quickly if necessary.

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