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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development of an analytical tool for anaerobic digestion of organic wastes Wang, Yu


Anaerobic digesters decompose organic matter biologically in the absence of oxygen. In some cases, in addition to waste management, the purpose of anaerobic digestion (AD) is to produce methane, which can be used for energy. In the Fraser Valley region, potentially 30 MW of energy can be generated through AD with the additional benefits of reduced odour, green house gas (GHG) emissions and soil and water contamination, which is produced currently from artificial fertilizers. The main goal of this research project is to develop an anaerobic digestion calculator that would assist farm and herd owners in the Lower Fraser Valley in making decisions on choosing suitable anaerobic digestion technologies for their own farms. The calculator is developed from Excel spreadsheets and graphical user interfaces (GUIs). These user interfaces take inputs, send the inputs to the corresponding spreadsheet cells, and block invalid inputs from causing calculation error. The new calculator uses the Lawrence and McCarty kinetic model to calculate substrate consumed during AD. This calculator takes hydraulic retention time (HRT) and feed, via animal counts, single-defined flow or mixing several waste sources, as inputs. From these inputs and default kinetic parameters, which can be modified, reactor size, biogas production rate, effluent characteristics, capital cost and revenue of the AD plant are calculated and summarized for users. Users can select one of the three possible digester configurations: completely-mixed, plug-flow and mixed plug-flow and heat and electricity co-generation or biogas upgrading. Currently the calculator is valid for simulating AD in the mesophilic temperature range only. Further modifications are needed to include other kinetic models, input more feed types and simulate thermophilic AD.

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