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Anaerobic digestion is, in its simplicity, harnessing natural bacteria to treat biodegradable materials. This process also gives off methane gas which can be captured and utilized for heat or electricity. Instead of sending this material to a landfill it can be processed and reused. In the end it will save space in landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the products of AD is biogas. This substance, biogas, is methane. It is used in sewage works to produce power to electric generators. It also provides heat. If the carbon dioxide and impurities are removed biomethane is the result. Biomethane can be used as a fuel for vehicles and add into the natural gas grid. This process could make it possible to decrease our need for petroleum.
Another material that comes from anaerobic digestion is digestate. Processing separates it into a fiber and liquor. These substances can be applied as fertilizers. In reality this can start the whole process back again. Some crops, such as, maize or miscanthus are grown just to be used in anaerobic digestion.
Scientists are always in search of ways to reduce our production of waste. It is also important to find ways to reuse the waste we do create. This process is still being studied but there is great hope in its future.