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Biogas GCSE

Did you know that biogas GSCE content is being taught in UK schools?  The rapid assimilation of the concept of biogas as a resource, and in particular the ability of methane to provide renewable fuel, is evidenced by the fact that the United Kingdom GCSE Course in Biology (B3) includes information on biogas and the anaerobic digestion process (for example from exam board Edexcel). Online revision sites  give the energy value of dung in terms of biogas yield as follows:

“On average, every 10kg of dry dung can produce 3 cubic metres of biogas…”

In parts of Brazil the subject of biogas also seems to be on the senior school educational curriculum as well.

But is the Biogas GCSE Teaching the Right Information?

Amazon has several ebooks aimed at school students which include biogas subjects, and a GCSE exam paper available from aqa.org.uk shows a question about a biogas generator. One might wonder why UK kids are being taught about buried concrete dome type anaerobic digestion systems when we are not aware that they work in the cold UK climate to provide adequate gas generation, and where surely it would be better to show the children examples of the types of heat insulated and warmed AD Plants which are being built in the UK, but the point is that this subject was never mentioned until the last few years!

Even the use of predominantly the description by the educationalists of a “biogas plant” rather than the more correct English usage of “anaerobic digestion plant” is off-key for the UK, where for example we have the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association. Try telling them that they built “biogas plants” and they will gently correct you, reminding you that the plant process is anaerobic digestion and the output is biogas!

Oh! Yes. And, when did you last see dung being collected for an AD Plant feedstock in the UK! Our teachers seem to be getting carried away by the use of the internet as an educational resource. They should remember that international practice may not be applicable to Great Britain. Am I the only person that would say that they should be more critical and apply UK information when teaching our children, rather than the methods which work in Pakistan where their agricultural circumstances and climate are quite different?

But, this is just whingeing! All those that believe that the AD process and the production of biogas has huge potential and should be being better promoted and to an extent more heavily subsidized by various governments including the UK coalition government, will be at least pleased that the biogas GCSE includes this training. This example should give them cheer, as this is surely another indication that the message about biogas, and the fact that it is highly sustainable and indeed renewable, is getting across to the educational establishment.

Let’s hope that the UK will not have to wait until the current generation grows up and gets into power in government before a commonsense level of govenment subsidy to small scale and on-farm biogas plants is implemented.

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