First Advisor

Christopher Butenhoff

Date of Award

Spring 6-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Physics: Environmental Physics and University Honors






Biogas, Methane as fuel, Landfill gases -- Purification, Greenhouse gas mitigation, Food waste, Yard waste, Renewable natural resources




Methane (CH4) is the second most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas within the atmosphere, comprising ~16% of the total anthropogenic greenhouse gas composition on Earth. It has an ~12-year lifetime relative to its eventual oxidation via reaction with tropospheric hydroxyl radicals (OH), and has a 100-year indirect global warming potential (GWP) approximately ranging between 28-36 [Environmental Protection Agency, 2021]. In recent years, the observed average global concentration of atmospheric CH4 has increased by ~11.0% from 2020 (~15.3 ppb) to 2021 (~17.0 ppb) [Dlugokencky et al., 1994; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2022]. With the specter of this positive-trend in anthropogenic CH4 emissions looming over Earth’s already rapidly changing climate; the necessity for increased use of emission-mitigating renewable technologies is of the utmost importance. Thereby this work explores the efficacy of producing renewable natural gas (R.N.G) and mitigating CH4 emissions from compostable sources, such as food waste and yard debris, via the utilization of a novel anaerobic biogas digester. Localizing the scope to the state of Oregon, this work demonstrates that CH4 emissions from the decomposition of food waste and yard debris, can be efficiently mitigated and exploited via the use of domestically affordable anaerobic biogas digesters. Possessing the potential to supplement the shortcomings of contemporary waste management policies by diverting ~966,546 tons of domestic compostable waste from being landfilled, lessening societal reliance on non-renewable natural gas by producing 30,307,893 MWh of renewable natural gas energy, and curtailing anthropogenic CH4 emissions by sequestering 81,766 tons of CH4 from landfilled domestic compostable waste.


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