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I'm looking at building a sustainable energy project that will convert biogas (methane) into electricity. I haven't found any biogas or methane electric generators for sale. It seems that there are some projects that are using generators to convert the methane gas into electricity, however, I can't tell if this is special kind of generator and I just don't know what it's called or if it is a natural gas or propane generator.

So will off the shelf natural gas or propane generators also run off of methane?

Also, how would I go about trying to calculate how much methane it would take to run the generator to produce enough electricity to say charge a cell phone or another small appliance?

Thanks!

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  • $\begingroup$ You'll need to consider the ignition temperature, the compression ratio (if any) and pressure flash point, the oxygen mix ratio, the effect on your exhaust pipe material of the byproducts of each reaction. And that's just for starters. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Apr 4 '18 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ Standard available generators with internal combustion engines are way too big to be any efficient for your application. (charging a phone etc) I'd recommend looking up the stirling engine. It's a very simple concept, and they can be small; lots of modelbuilders have built them. You just make a little flame with your methane to run the engine, attach an alternator to it, and be done. They're also moderately efficient. $\endgroup$ – Bart Apr 4 '18 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ I have my doubts, based on domestic gas heaters. Heaters designed to burn propane cannot be used safely to burn methane & vice versa. $\endgroup$ – Fred Apr 4 '18 at 18:16
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natural gas is methane, so no problems there. an internal combustion engine that is equipped to operate on gasoline can be converted easily to run on gaseous fuels and the conversion kits usually contain a little fitment which allows the user to run the engine on their choice of either propane or methane.

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