Assessment of biogas potential hazards

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Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 3445e3451

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Assessment of biogas potential hazards Ghinwa M. Naja a, *, René Alary b, Philippe Bajeat c, Gaël Bellenfant d, Jean-Jacques Godon e, Jean-Philippe Jaeg f, Gérard Keck g, Armand Lattes h, Carole Leroux i, Hugues Modelon i, Marina Moletta-Denat j, Olivier Ramalho j, Christophe Rousselle i, Sandrine Wenisch c, Isabelle Zdanevitch k a

Everglades Foundation, Palmetto Bay, FL 33157, USA Central Lab Paris Police Headquarters (LCCP), Paris, France French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), Angers, France d Geoscience for a Sustainable Earth Institute (BRGM), Orleans, France e INRA, Laboratoire de Biotechnologie de l’Environnement, Narbonne F-11100, France f National Veterinary College of Toulouse (ENVT), Toulouse, France g National Veterinary College of Lyon (ENVL), Lyon, France h Paul Sabatier University (IMRCP), Toulouse, France i The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), Maisons-Alfort, France j Scientific and Technical Center for Buildings (CSTB), Marne La Vallee, France k French National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks (INERIS), Verneuil Halatte, France b c

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Article history: Received 16 February 2011 Accepted 15 May 2011 Available online 16 June 2011

Biogas produced from anaerobic fermentation of organic substances represents an alternative renewable energy source. Its utilization would contribute to substantial reduction of the solid waste volume in land-filling and incineration. Biogas so produced could be utilized on site or it could be injected into the natural gas distribution network. Microbiological and chemical compositions of different biogas types were determined in order to conduct qualitative and quantitative risk assessments of the potential health hazards associated with biogas use for cooking. Biogas types that could be allowed for injection in the natural gas pipelines were listed with recommendations, while outlining the European biogas injection policy. Results indicated that the injection of the processed biogas in the distribution network did not present any additional chemical or microbiological risk to consumers when compared to natural gas, provided that the biogas resulted from the fermentation of non-dangerous waste. However, since this study did not examine the microbiological and chemical composition of biogas originating from wastewater sludges and/or industrial wastes, the injection of this type of biogas into the gas distribution network should not be allowed unless a similar risk evaluation study is conducted for each case. Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Anaerobic fermentation Health risk Exposure Emission Volatile organic compounds Metals

1. Introduction Within the framework of the new policies regarding waste management, several European municipalities developed programs of solid waste valorization based on the production of biogas as a renewable energy source [1,2]. Gas produced during the solid waste fermentation (biogas) could be utilized on site or it could be injected into the natural gas distribution network (when permitted). Biogas production as a (renewable) energy-generating alternative * Corresponding author. Tel.: þ1 305 251 0001; fax: þ1 305 251 0039. E-mail address: [email protected] (G.M. Naja). 0960-1481/$ e see front matter Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.renene.2011.05.025

would substantially reduce the fermentable waste and thus limit the volume of solid waste in land-filling and incineration [3,4]. This summarizes the outcome of a review conducted under the auspices of the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (AFSSET, now ANSES) on the health risks of biogas. The review process involved (i) a literature analysis of the physicochemical and microbiological composition of biogas; (ii) the determination of biogas composition (major and minor components) as a function of the technical processes used to purify it; and, (iii) an evaluation of the health risks linked to the exposure to toxic agents before and after combustion (home cooking) and a comparison to natural gas.


G.M. Naja et al. / Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 3445e3451

Table 1 Biogas standards requirements for grid injection in France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland [56]. Compounds






The Netherlands

Wobbe index (MJ Nm3)

43.2e46.8 (L) 49.1e56.6 (H)

37.8e46.8 (L) 46.1e56.5 (H)





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