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Bathymetric Survey and Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) Production

Using Bathymetric Survey to Assist in Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) Production

Recycled natural gas from biomass, often referred to as renewable natural gas (RNG) or biomethane, is a sustainable alternative to traditional natural gas. It is produced through a process called anaerobic digestion or thermal gasification, where organic materials, such as agricultural residues, organic waste, and sewage sludge, are broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. This process produces biogas, which primarily consists of methane, the main component of natural gas. Biogas is processed to remove impurities. Purified biogas is essentially identical to natural gas and can be referred to as biomethane or RNG. From there, the purified biomethane can be directly injected into the existing natural gas grid. This means it can be transported and used in the same way as conventional natural gas for heating, electricity generation, and even as vehicle fuel.

At Envirotech, we use bathymetric survey equipment to determine the suitability of our client’s animal manure collection pits, or sludge pits, for the possible production of RNG. In general, the bathymetric survey is a scientific method used to measure and map the underwater topography, or bathymetry, of oceans, seas, lakes, or rivers. Unlike topographic maps, which represent the surface features of the land, bathymetric maps provide information about the underwater landscape, including the depths of the water, the shape of the seafloor, and underwater features such as trenches, ridges, and shoals.

Envirotech utilizes this same technology to perform bathymetric surveys using a boat-mounted sonar and GPS equipment to produce an accurate topographic map of the floor or sludge/sediment surfaces and comparing that data to the original design or as-built files, if available (or other depth gauging equipment) to determine the volume of water (or effluent), sludge and solid mass that is contained in a lagoon or pond.  This data is then used to determine if the lagoon is a suitable candidate for RNG collection or if a new lagoon should be built at the location. The same technology and procedures have also been used in many other Envirotech industry-related projects.

Renewable natural gas (RNG) derived from animal manure is a sustainable and environmentally friendly energy source and some of its many benefits include:

  • Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction: By capturing methane emissions, RNG production reduces the greenhouse gas effect. Methane is a significant contributor to global warming and capturing it for energy use mitigates its impact on the environment.
  • Energy Independence: RNG production reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, contributing to energy independence and security.
  • Supports Agriculture: Livestock producers can benefit economically from RNG production, diversifying their income streams and improving their sustainability practices.
  • Circular Economy: RNG production aligns with the principles of a circular economy by recycling agricultural waste into renewable energy.
  • New Gas Production Areas:  RNG can create methane in areas that are not within traditional fossil fuel gas-producing areas, reducing the infrastructure needed to supply the much-needed resource to new areas.

RNG production from animal waste plays a vital role in sustainable agriculture and the transition to a low-carbon energy system. ENVIROTECH has the cutting-edge equipment and staff to help our clients determine which of their pits might be a good candidate for RNG production and assist in the design and “capping” of these pits.

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