Optimization of methane output for an anaerobic waste digester


  • Ashfaq A. Khan School of Mathematical & Geospatial Sciences, RMIT University
  • Andrew J. Stacey RMIT University
  • John J. Shepherd School of Mathematical & Geospatial Sciences, RMIT University




In response to the need for renewable energy resources, the replacement of fuel gas with methane produced from the anaerobic digestion of sewerage, agricultural and municipal solid wastes is considered. The utilization of methane for power generation offsets the energy requirements of the digester facility. We discuss the optimization of methane output for a model digester. The model uses Monod based kinetics of methane fermentation and does not include spatial effects. The model assumes that the solid waste acts as a substrate for acid forming bacteria which produce volatile fatty acids, which is converted to methane by a second type of bacteria. It is found that the initial concentrations of the two bacteria and biodegradable volatile solids that maximize the total methane output are independent of the temperature. However, the optimal hydraulic residence time and initial concentration of volatile fatty acids are temperature dependent. This suggests that flow rates should be adjusted, depending on the temperature, to maximize methane output. References
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Proceedings Computational Techniques and Applications Conference