Waste from Cows is Helping us Make Cleaner Energy

Extracting methane from biogas creates fuel without fracking.

By Marlene Cimons, Popular Science.

During the summer of 2016, chemical engineer David Simakov took a leisurely drive through the farmlands of southern Ontario. During his trip, he stopped at a farm that was producing biogas from manure, then burning it to create electricity. Ever the scientist, Simakov began to wonder. Would it be possible to take that biogas one step further and refine it into natural gas?

Natural gas, though a significant contributor to climate change, is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel. Turning cow manure into natural gas would have three big advantages. First, it would turn animal waste, a major source of carbon pollution, into a useful fuel. Second, it would provide a new source of natural gas, which could be used to replace dirtier fuels like coal and oil. Third, it would reduce the need for fracking, the environmentally-destructive practice that extracts natural gas from the earth. 

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