Renewable natural gas (RNG) is a pipeline-quality gas that is fully interchangeable with conventional natural gas and thus can be used in natural gas vehicles.
Because RNG is chemically identical to fossil-derived conventional natural gas, it can use the existing natural gas distribution system and must be compressed or liquefied for use in vehicles.
Biomethane, which is another term for this purified pipeline-quality fuel, refers to biogas that has also been cleaned and conditioned to remove or reduce non-methane elements. This processed biogas is instead used as a replacement for traditional natural gas to generate combined electricity and heating for power plants—not in vehicle applications.
Biogas is produced from various biomass sources through a biochemical process, such as anaerobic digestion, or through thermochemical means, such as gasification. With minor cleanup, biogas can be used to generate electricity and heat. To fuel vehicles, biogas must be processed to a higher purity standard. This process is called conditioning or upgrading, and involves the removal of water, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and other trace elements.
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