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Greenhouse gas emission reductions from domestic anaerobic digesters linked with sustainable sanitation in rural China.

Abstract

Anaerobic digesters provide clean, renewable energy (biogas) by converting organic waste to methane, and are a key part of China's comprehensive rural energy plan. Here, experimental and modeling results are used to quantify the net greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction from substituting a household anaerobic digester for traditional energy sources in Sichuan, China. Tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy and radial plume mapping were used to estimate the mass flux of fugitive methane emissions from active digesters. Using household energy budgets, the net improvement in GHG emissions associated with biogas installation was estimated using global warming commitment (GWC) as a consolidated measure of the warming effects of GHG emissions from cooking. In all scenarios biogas households had lower GWC than nonbiogas households, by as much as 54%. Even biogas households with methane leakage exhibited lower GWC than nonbiogas households, by as much as 48%. Based only on the averted GHG emissions over 10 years, the monetary value of a biogas installation was conservatively estimated at US$28.30 ($16.07 ton(-1) CO(2)-eq), which is available to partly offset construction costs. The interaction of biogas installation programs with policies supporting improved stoves, renewable harvesting of biomass, and energy interventions with substantial health cobenefits are discussed.

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