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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine


A. Relevance :-

The economic of India depends to a large extent on the

wheels of transport. The specter of economy ruin due to depleted oil reserves has

changed the interest of scientist and research work towards alternative fuels for

motor vehicle. Viable substitute for motor spirit are gaseous hydrocarbons,

hydrogen gas, alcohol & electricity that run on hydrocarbon gas & electricity are

still in the experimental stage. While alcohol is used as a fuel chiefly in Brazil,

it’s feasibility as motor fuel depends on the successful cultivation & processing

of sugarcane. Gaseous hydrocarbons seem to be the best immediate option

presently available. These are mainly COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS (CNG)

& LIQUIFIED PETROLIUM GAS (LPG). LPG is being imported whereas

CNG is available in abundance in India. Till recently, technology to permit

conversion of vehicles from petrol burners to gas burners had to imported, but

now due to the pioneering efforts of departments of mechanical engineering at


India is largest cattle breeding country, there is abundance of

raw material for producing biogas. Also municipal sewage can be used for this


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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine

The use of methane separated from biogas as a fuel will

substantially reduce harmful engine emission and will help to keep the

environment clean. Biogas consists of approximately 55-60 % of methane. It is

economical and slurry can be used as organic manure.

One of the alternate technologies Sulabh propagates is the

biogas plant that utilises human excreta as its raw input. In the last 20 years, it

has setup a hundred such plants throughout India. The plants’ twin outputs,

similar to those of cattle biogas plants, are nutrient-rich sludge and methane-rich

biogas. The sludge is used primarily as manure, and the biogas either as cooking

fuel or as street-lighting gas.

B. The Technology :-

Biogas dates as far back as the 16th century, when it was used

for heating bath-water in Persia. It has been used in India for almost a hundred

years (Sampat, 1995). The Indian government introduced large-scale biogas

production in 1981 through the National Project on Biogas Development.

Biogas is produced by extracting chemical energy from organic materials in a

sealed container called a digester. 2 million biogas plants were in operation in

1995, and about 10 million rural Indians were benefiting from the electric power

and cooking

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine

fuel the gas provided, and also from the rich agricultural fertilizer the plant

produces as a byproduct.

Central to the generation of biogas is the concept of

anaerobic digestion, also called biological gasification. It is a naturally

occurring, microbial process that converts organic matter to methane and carbon

dioxide. The chemical reaction takes place in the presence of methanogenic

bacteria with water an essential medium. The anaerobic digestion process, as the

name states, is one that functions without molecular oxygen. Ideally, in a biogas

plant there should be no oxygen within the digester. However, efforts to

completely remove it will be prohibitively expensive. Oxygen therefore exists in

the digester, dissolved mainly in water. Fortuitously, some microbes within the

digester are facultative anaerobes, i.e. they utilize oxygen and lower the

dissolved oxygen concentration to levels suitable for other anaerobic microbes to

perform their chemical reactions. Oxygen removal from the digester is

important for two main reasons. First, the presence of oxygen leads to the

creation of water, not methane. Second, oxygen is a contaminant in biogas and

also a potential safety hazard. Due to presence of oxygen, calorific value of

biogas becomes low.

First, cow dung, the primary raw input for almost all

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
operating biogas plants is widespread and easily available. India has more cattle

than any other country (450 million head, 19% of the world population).i

Second, the cow is held in religious veneration and its products are considered

purifying agents. Hence, there is a universal acceptance of even its dung, which

otherwise would instinctively be thought of as repulsive. Dung (or gobar in

Hindi) is widely used in India for house construction (as an infill material and

external plaster), in religious rituals, as composted fertilizer and as a cooking

fuel (dung cakes). Dung accounts for over 21 percent of total rural energy use in

India, and as much as 40 percent in certain states of the country.ii Third, only

27% of rural India has access to electricity supplied by the national grid

(ostensibly, 84% of all villages are connected). Localized biogas plants obviate

the dependency on the grid by producing energy from a locally controlled and

easily accessible raw material.

C. Present Theory and Practices

i. Biogas cars: -

Koges, Switzerland is developing a new fuel based on

biogas which would be eco friendly and cheaper than petrol. Wastage from

kitchens and gardens are collected, non-biodegradable matter removed and again

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
put into fermentation reactor. Here, in the anaerobic environment

microorganisms transforms the garbage into compost and biogas called

kompogas. Gas obtained from 100kg. Of waste can fuel a medium sized car up

to 100km. The engine runs more quietly on kompogas, vibrates less and the

exhaust is almost odourless. At the present 150 vehicles are running on


ii. In India, some projects are undertaken in which diesel and biogas as dual

fuel for diesel pump.

iii. In Israel, biogas is used as a fuel for loaded vehicles.

D. Need

Till date, LPG, CNG has been used as fuel. But they have

their own limitations. LPG is explosive, CNG is expensive. Methane separated

from biogas is equivalent to CNG but economical than CNG. Now-a-days the

whole world is facing energy crisis. Available sources of liquid fuel will be

depleted after few years. In this situation biogas can serve as best alternative


E. Applications :-

1. Fuels for internal combustion engine.

2. Pump.

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
3. Electricity generation.

4. Domestic fuel for burners in kitchen.


1. Gasoline.

2. Diesel.

3. Alcohol

4. LPG.

5. CNG.

6. Electricity.

7. Solar.

8. Producer gas.

9. Hydrogen.

Present Fuels and Limitations:-

There are so many fuels used in I.C. Engines, but they have

certain physical and chemical properties. In other words, fuels used in I.C.

Engine re designed tom satisfy performance requirements of engine system, in

which they are used. The limitations of fuels that are used presently are as


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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
1. Gasoline contains many impurities. It has low octane number. All

petroleum fuels oxidize slowly in presence of air. The oxidation of

unsaturated hydrocarbons result in formation of resinous materials called

gum and reduces its lubricating quality and tends to form sludge and warmish

on piston and rings. It has less knock resistance as well as energy per unit

mass. It has less efficiency compared to other fuels. It has high cost.

2. In alcohol, higher latent heat of vaporization reduced charge temperatures

before combustion. Alcohols suffer disadvantages of water absorption,

corrosive and lubricant incompatibility.

3. In LPG, it reduces volumetric efficiency due to its high heat of

vaporization. The road sensitivity is very high. It is very corrosive.

Response to blending is very poor. It has higher cost of transportation. It

has higher cost for conversion kit, installation of extensive.

4. In electricity, they use in initially generated power stations that use fossil

fuel of nuclear power. There are other problems too. The problem is with

batteries in these vehicles. These batteries are quite heavy and life of

these is also low. Cost of replacing these batteries is high.

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine


I. Micro Organisms And Mechanism Of Bio-Gas Production

a. Micro Organisms-

An organic waste consist of many organisms but the organisms useful for

biogas production are

i. Aerobic

ii. Anaerobic

b. Constituents of Organic Waste –

The organic waste contains many constituents such as

cellulose, Hemicelluloses, lignin, proteins, and starch, water-soluble, fats

Soluble etc.

c. Mechanism of biogas production: -

Stage 1 It involves the decomposition of cellulose, hemicellulos

Lignin, starch, protein, fats etc. Into simpler organic compounds

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
like acids, alcohols and gases like CO2, H2, and NH3, H2S etc. by

aerobic and anaerobic Micro-organisms.

Stage 2: - The anaerobic organism or methane bacteria utilizes

Simple carbon compounds available from first stage and produce


This is biogas production.

II. Bio-gas plants: -

There are two types of plants-

i. Daily fed or continuous type.

ii. Batch fed or periodic type.

1). Daily fed or continuous type biogas plants: -

It consists of 5 m. deep underground tank of

masonry construction. It is known as digester or fermentation

well. The inlet tank is connected to digester by an

inlet pipe and the outlet

tank is connected to digester by the outlet pipe as shown in figure.

The gas holder collects biogas produced in digester. It can be

taken for use through gas outlet pipe.

The organic waste such as cattle dung is mixed with water in 1: 1

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Proportion and poured in inlet tank everyday. This material is

usually known as substrate. Substrate gets collected in the

fermentation well through the inlet pipe. The trapped air is removed

from the digester through the gas outlet and the gas holder is placed

in the position.

When the plant is commissioned, an inoculation of the bacteria is

brought from existing biogas plant and is injected in the digester to

accelerate the purpose of decomposition to produce biogas at faster


Size of plant depends upon

1. The required amount of gas daily and

2 Available quantity of cattle dung daily.

After the digester is full of substrate within a week’s time, the

digester start coming out through the gas outlet pipe. It is displaced

out. This gas can not burn. Initially high CO2 contained in the gas

makes it unsuitable for use.

Within 4-8 weeks, the microorganism develops sufficiently and

biogas is generated. This stabilized gas burns continuously in the

burner. The gas outlet is covered with wire mesh to prevent a flame

rushing into the digester.

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The plant should be exposed to the sunlight and shielded from the

wind to accelerate the growth of bacteria. The substrate should not

be added till the steady flame of gas is obtained at the burner. The

plant is operated at low pressure for proper burning of gas and

proper fermentation.

The used out substrate passing to outlet tank through the outlet pipe.

The residual slurry gets stored in this tank. The solid residue can be

used for diluting the dung. Sometimes mixture is used in the

digester to help digestion. The digester may be surrounded by water

and heating coil to maintain temperature.

Advantages: -

1. Continuous gas output.

2. Minimum space requirement

3. Suitable for individual family

Disadvantages: -

1. Substrate of uniform quality is desirable

2. Daily attention is required

3. Daily feeding is necessary

III. Purification of Biogas:-

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
Biogas coming from tank contains –


Methane(CH4) 50-68%
Carbon monoxide (CO2) 25-35%
Hydrogen(H2) 1-5%
Nitrogen (N2) 2-7%
Oxygen (O2) 0-.1%
Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) Rare

Out of these CO2 does not help in combustion process but

reduce the calorific value of biogas. H2S is in minor quantity but it has

corrosive action on combustion chamber and also reduces calorific value of

biogas. Also traces of moisture are to be remove for better thermal efficiency.

So harmful gradients are removed and use only methane as a fuel.

Different Purification Processes:-

1) Removal of H2S -

The gas coming out of system is heated to 1500 C

and over ZnO bed, maintained at 1800 C leaving process gas free of H2S.

ZnO + H2S = ZnS + H2O.

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
ZnSO4 + 2NaOH = Zn (OH) 2 + Na2SO4

2) Removal of CO2 –

CO2 is high corrosive when wet and it has no combustion

value so its removal is must to improve the biogas quality.

The processes to remove CO2 are as follows –

a) Caustic solution, NAOH – 40%


b) Renfield process – K2CO3 - 30 %

K2CO3 + CO2 = 2KCO3

3) Removal of NH3:-

The chemical reaction is as:

NH3 + HCL =NH4Cl

4) Removal of H2O:-

For the removal of moisture, we passed the gas from above

reaction, through the crystals of white silica gel.


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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
In its pure state, it is color less, odorless, tasteless. For safety

reason, an odorant is added so that any leak can be easily detected because of

typical smell.

The composition of bio gas is never constant. Methane is

by far the largest component, its presence accounting for about 95% of the total

volume. Methane is a simple hydrocarbon, a substance consisting of carbon &

hydrogen. There are many of these compounds each has its own carbon &

hydrogen atoms joined together to for a particular hydrocarbon gas as fuel gas.

Methane is very light fuel gas. If we increase the number of hydrogen & carbon

atoms, we have got progressively heavier gases, releasing more heat, therefore

more energy, when ignited.

Specific gravity of methane is .55 which is less than petrol &

LPG. This means that biogas will rise if escaping, thus dissipating from the site

of a leak. This important characteristic makes biogas safer than other fuels. It

does not contain any toxic component; therefore there is no health hazard in

handling of fuel.

The air to biogas (stoichiometric) ratio by volume for

complete combustion is 9.5:1 to 10:1.

Biogas has a very slow flame velocity, only .290 m/s. at its

highest. The range of flammability is 4 to 14% which can give good combustion


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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
Biogas has very high octane number approximately 130. By

comparison, gasoline is 90 to 94 & alcohol 105 at best. This means that a higher

compression ratio engine can be used with biogas than petrol. Hence, cylinder

head of the engine is faced so that clearance volume will be reduced &

compression ratio can sufficiently increase. Thus volumetric efficiency & power

output are increased. Because of its high octane value the detonation occur

however high the compression may be. The Boiling point of biogas is above 300

degree Celsius while the calorific value is 35.390 MJ/m3

One of the promising renewable energy sources is biogas,

which is compound gas consisting mainly of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide

(CO2). It is normally formed with the decomposition of organic substances.

Because of its low energy density, the gas is generally stored in high-pressure

gas bomb. To store it in a condition of high density, it is also attempted to store

methane in the form of clathrate. The clathration of methane requires normally

high pressure and low temperature. If the clathration of biogas and methane could

be achieved under the normal pressure and temperature, this would make the

gases a very useful energy source. In this study, the clathration of methane

under the normal pressure and temperature was first attempted by using

Tetrahydrofuran (THF) as additive. Further, to realize the higher storage density

of methane, CO2 must be removed beforehand because not only methane but

also CO2 form clathrate. To achieve CO2 removal, the possibility of absorption

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
method using Monoethanolamine (MEA) is experimentally investigated, aiming

efficient biogas utilization in final.

Advantages of Biogas : -

1) It is light fuel gas.

2) It mixes easily with the air.

3) It is highly knocked resistant.

4) Due to uniform distribution thermal efficiency is


5) Biogas has a high octane number.

6) It reduces pollution.

7) Higher compression ratio can be used with biogas.

8) Plants capital cost is low.

9) Domestic fuels for burners used in kitchen.

10)No toxic to skin.


A study released at the NGV Conference highlights the

benefits of using biogas as a source of fuel for NGVs. Biogas consists primarily

of methane and is given off in places where decaying organic material is found.

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
According to the report, one of the primary benefits of capturing biogas

generated at landfill sites, sewage waste treatment plants, and animal feedlots

would be a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The report also

finds that capturing and burning biogas would provide significant reductions in

toxic emissions and ozone forming pollutants, and lower particulate emissions in

the case of heavy-duty vehicles. In addition, the report finds that water quality

could be improved as a result of reduced waste runoff near sites where biogas is

captured and used in NGVs.

The potential reductions of greenhouse gas emissions

presented in this paper are staggering. Much of this benefit is derived from

capturing and burning methane emissions that currently are released into the

atmosphere. The report indicates that an NGV using fuel derived from biogas

that otherwise would have been vented provides as much benefit as removing six

petroleum-fueled vehicles from the nation's highways. Stated differently, use of

biogas in NGVs would produce 600 percent less greenhouse gas emissions when

compared with using petroleum as a motor fuel.

Using biogas that currently is flared instead of vented would

provide about a 100 percent net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when

compared with burning petroleum motor fuel in a similar vehicle. The study

also finds that utilization of available supplies of biogas could potentially reduce

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
the motor vehicle-related greenhouse gas emission by more than 340 million

tons -- a 23 percent reduction in overall emissions of motor vehicle greenhouse

gas emissions.

The amount of natural gas that potentially could be produced

from decaying material around the country is substantial. The report indicates

that biogas could displace about 6 billion gallons of motor fuel a year,

accounting for nearly four percent of all the gasoline and diesel currently used

by motor vehicles. The report indicates that some of this biogas can be produced

at prices competitive with conventional petroleum fuels. Much of the fuel,

however, is not economic at today's fuel prices, but could easily be made

economic if the right types of incentives or credits were provided.


1. S. I. Engines

The only adoption for a spark ignition engine is a gas (not

gasoline!) carburetor to work at the supply pressure (just like an LPG

conversion, but an evaporator would not be needed as the storage pressure is

low). It is also a good idea to scrub the H2S (as it causes corrosion) and to

derate the engine (unless you want to replace it each year if operating


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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
Modification of S.I. Engine -

S.I. engines can run completely on biogas, however, the

engines are required to be started on petrol at the beginning, conversion of S.I.

engine for the entry of biogas, throttling of intake air & advancing the ignition

timing. Biogas can be admitted to S.I. engine through the intake manifold & air

flow control valve can be provided on the air cleaner pipe connecting air cleaner

& carburetor for throttling the intake air as shown in fig.

2. C.I. Engine :-

Diesel engines also need a gas carburetor and scrubbing, but require at

least 10% diesel via the injectors for ignition (and cooling). The initial

starting of diesel engine is done on pure diesel

Modification of C.I. Engine:–

C.I. engine can operate on dual fuel & the necessary engine

modification include provision for the entry of biogas with intake air, provision

of carburetor & system to reduce diesel supply, advanced injection timing. The

entry of biogas and mixing of gas with intake air can be achieved by providing

the mixing chamber below the air cleaner which facilitate through mixing of

biogas with air before entering into the cylinder. The arrangement is shown in

fig. is largely used in stationary engine commercially available in India. The

capacity of mixing chamber may be kept equal to the engine displacement

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Bio-Gas as Alternate Fuel in IC Engine
volume. The pilot injection of cycle is required to be advanced for smooth and

efficient running of engine on dual fuel. The admittance of biogas into the

engine at the initial stage increases engine speed and therefore a suitable system

reduces the diesel supply by actuating the control rack needs to be incorporated.

There is a wide range of thoughts on what treatments should

these biogases be subjected to before being used as fuel. Most operators simply

remove the water present in the biogas, leaving it to the engine manufacturers to

design engines which will cope with the impurities inevitably included in the

biogas (significant maintenance costs); other Operators are seriously evaluating

maintenance costs against initial investments in biogas clean up technologies

such as has been developed by Acrion Technologies (although Acrion's

technologies are mainly aimed at biogas contaminant removal and separation

into methane and carbon dioxide as feed stocks for a variety of commercial



To use the biogas as a fuel in SI engine there are some

practical difficulties. It is not possible to compress the methane, separated from

biogas by available method, because the gas could be liquefied through chilling

below -161 0C.

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This process is adapted by installing the units required when

there use of methane separated from biogas as a fuel. Since gas can not be

compressed it requires large space for storage.


1. In purification method, by reducing CO2 and moisture

along H2S impurities in biogas, the engine performance is


2. Effect of spark timing :-

Biogas is slow burning fuel. Hence in order to get optimum engine performance,

spark timing does not advance, and then combustion continues in major part of

the expansion stroke. This reduces effective work done. By advancing, spark

timing power is improved on low speed at partial throttle condition as well as

high speed at full throttle condition.


The exhaust emission contains three specific substances

which contribute the air pollution, hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide &oxides of

nitrogen. Hydrocarbons are the unburned fuel vapour coming out with the

exhaust due to incomplete combustion. Hydrocarbon also occurring in crankcase

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by fuel evaporation. The emission of hydrocarbon is closely related to many

design &operating factors like induction system, combustion chamber design, air

fuel ratio, speed, load. Lean mixture lower hydrocarbon emission.

Carbon monoxide occurs only in engine exhaust. It is the

product of incomplete combustion due to insufficient amount of air in air- fuel

mixture. Some amount of CO is always present in the exhaust even at lean

mixture. When the throttle is closed to reduce air supply at the time of starting

the vehicle, maximum amount of CO is produced.

Oxides of nitrogen are the combination of nitric oxide &

nitrogen oxide &availability of oxygen are the two main reasons for the

formation of oxides of nitrogen. The spark advance means lower peak

combustion temperature. It causes high NO concentration in the exhaust. With

biogas, co emission levels are low than that of gasoline.

Comparison of Exhaust Emission :-

Power Reduction 11%
CO Reduction 99%
HC Reduction 99%
NO Reduction 59%
ISFC Increase 19%

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