Abstract: Over the last four years the natural gas grid has begun to carry methane from vast new energy fields. Different than conventional natural gas fields deep underground, these fields are at the surface, literally farm fields. The field crops on farms absorbCO2 from the atmosphere to grow plant biomass (about 50% carbon). These crops, crop residues, and various organic wastes can be decomposedinan anaerobic digester to produce biogas (a mixture of CH4 and CO2) from which the CH4 can be separated and marketed as renewablenatural gas (RNG, aka biomethane). Farms have been operating anaerobic digesters for decades, but only recently have been upgrading their biogas to pipeline quality RNG. RNG is a renewable energy resource that is dispatchable (use it when you want it) insteadof intermittent like wind and solar.
About: Richard is a professor of agricultural and biological engineering and the Director of Penn State’s Institutes for Energy and the Environment, where he coordinates a network of almost 500 faculty engaged in innovative interdisciplinary research and educationon fossil and renewable energy, energy efficiency, water, climate, ecosystems and environmental health. His research and teaching focuses on the intersection of agriculture and the environment, investigating the impacts of crop, livestock and biomass energy systems on carbon and nutrient cycling, soil and water quality, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, with a special focus on naturaland engineered microbiomes. Dr. Richard currently serves on the Agricultural Science Committee of the U.S. EPA’s Science Advisory Board and serves as the deputy technical director for the DOE’s National Risk Assessment Partnership for geologic carbon sequestration.