Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) for BeginnersAlthough natural gas is efficient, clean, and economical it’s still considered a fossil fuel (EIA, 2022). To help offset the carbon released, many utility companies are spearheading renewable energy initiatives, such as renewable natural gas (RNG). RNG finds ways to offset carbon emissions. Scientists, engineers, and other energy experts are constantly looking for innovative ways to remove carbon from natural gas. Three main strategies for securing natural gas’ sustainable future have emerged.
1. Biogas from Landfills
Biogas from landfills is a great way to turn trash into treasure! According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S.” (AFDC, 2022). If some trash isn’t recyclable, at least we can find ways to reuse and capture the methane it produces.
2. Biogas from Livestock Operations
Like capturing methane emissions from landfills, the same concept can be applied to livestock operations, such as dairy farms. Scientists can capture the methane released by livestock manure and deliver it to an anaerobic digester to “stabilize and optimize methane production” (AFDC, 2022). This gas is then able to be injected into existing natural gas infrastructure and reused in our homes!
Last by not least, is hydrogen. Hydrogen is arguably the most exciting and innovative way to support homes’ and businesses’ needs. Understanding hydrogen and how it can be utilized to decarbonize natural gas is a bit complex. In short, hydrogen offers solutions on how to decarbonize parts of the economy (transportation, energy, and municipal heat) by utilizing existing gas infrastructure and equipment (UNECE, 2022). This allows engineers, scientists, and other innovators to not have to reinvent systems, structures, and tools that we rely heavily upon.
As we continue down the path of protecting our planet, staying up to date on the latest technology and innovative solutions is inspiring. Landfills, livestock, and other “waste” can still be utilized to help us continue living comfortably. In addition, some of the greatest minds are working to find other solutions such as hydrogen, to achieve the same goal. The future of RNG is bright, but hopefully not bright enough to burn a bigger hole through our Ozone.