Biogas From Cow Dung

In India, it is common for rural households to use cow dung (gowar) as a source of fuel for cooking and heating. However, in recent years, there has been a growing trend towards using cow dung to generate biogas, which can be used to power homes and other facilities. The process of generating biogas from cow dung involves the engineering of a traditional natural gas system that is based on fermentation.


The first step in the engineering of a traditional natural gas system using cow dung is to collect the dung and mix it with water to create a slurry. This slurry is then transferred to a biogas digester, which is a large, sealed container designed to facilitate the fermentation process. The digester is typically made from concrete or brick and is lined with a waterproof material to prevent leakage.

Once the slurry is in the digester, the fermentation process begins. This process is carried out by anaerobic bacteria that break down the organic matter in the slurry, producing biogas as a byproduct. The biogas is composed of primarily methane and carbon dioxide, along with small amounts of other gases.

The biogas that is produced in the digester is collected and stored in a gas holder, which is typically a large balloon-like structure made from reinforced plastic or rubber. The gas holder is connected to the digester via a pipe, and as biogas is produced, it displaces the air in the gas holder, causing it to inflate.

Biogas and cooking with cow dung patties

From the gas holder, the biogas is distributed to the various areas of the household where it is needed. This is typically done through a series of pipes and valves that allow the gas to be directed to different appliances, such as stoves and lamps. The biogas can also be used to generate electricity, either through a small-scale generator or by connecting the system to the grid.

One of the benefits of using a traditional natural gas system based on fermenting cow dung is that it is a renewable energy source. Cow dung is readily available in rural areas, and its use for biogas production can help reduce the reliance on non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels. Additionally, the system can help reduce the amount of organic waste that is produced by households, as the waste can be used to generate biogas rather than being discarded.

The engineering of a traditional natural gas system using cow dung in India involves the collection and fermentation of cow dung in a biogas digester, the collection and storage of the biogas in a gas holder, and the distribution of the biogas to different areas of the household through a series of pipes and valves. This system is a sustainable and renewable energy source that can help reduce reliance on non-renewable sources while also reducing organic waste.

What about human faeces? Human faeces stink what they eat!

Human faeces can also be used as a feedstock for biogas production, similar to cow dung. However, cow dung is often preferred over human faeces for biogas production due to several factors.

Firstly, cow dung has a higher concentration of organic matter compared to human feces. This means that a given volume of cow dung will produce more biogas than the same volume of human feces.

Secondly, cow dung is often easier to collect and handle than human feces. Cow dung is usually available in large quantities in rural areas, where it can be easily collected from livestock. In contrast, human faeces may need to be collected from individual households, which can be more challenging and time-consuming.

Finally, there are also cultural and social factors that may make the use of human feces for biogas production less acceptable in some communities.

That being said, in some situations where cow dung is not available or feasible to use, human faeces can be a viable alternative feedstock for biogas production. However, it is important to note that proper sanitation measures must be taken to ensure the safety and health of those involved in the collection and handling of human faeces.

Cow Dung Biogas System

The composition of human faeces can vary based on an individual’s diet. In general, diets that are high in protein and fat, such as those containing meat and dairy products, can result in faeces with a stronger odour. This can make the use of human faeces as a feedstock for biogas production less desirable in some cases.

However, it is worth noting that the fermentation process that occurs in a biogas digester can help to break down and reduce the odour of the faeces. This is due to the activity of anaerobic bacteria, which convert the organic matter in the faeces into biogas and other byproducts.

Gowar/Gobar Upla

Furthermore, biogas systems that use human feces as a feedstock often incorporate a pre-treatment step, such as composting or thermal treatment, to reduce the odor and make the feces more suitable for digestion in the biogas digester. This pre-treatment step can also help to remove pathogens and reduce the risk of disease transmission.

In conclusion, while the odour of human faeces can be a factor to consider when using it as a feedstock for biogas production, the fermentation process and pre-treatment steps can help to mitigate this issue. Ultimately, the choice of feedstock will depend on a range of factors, including availability, cost, and cultural considerations.