Exponential model describing methane production kinetics in batch anaerobic digestion: a tool for evaluation of biochemical methane potential assays

Brulé, Mathieu; Oechsner, Hans; Jungbluth, Thomas
September 2014
Bioprocess & Biosystems Engineering;Sep2014, Vol. 37 Issue 9, p1759
Academic Journal
Biochemical methane potential assays, usually run in batch mode, are performed by numerous laboratories to characterize the anaerobic degradability of biogas substrates such as energy crops, agricultural residues, and organic wastes. Unfortunately, the data obtained from these assays lacks common, universal bases for comparison, because standard protocols did not diffuse to the entire scientific community. Results are usually provided as final values of the methane yields of substrates. However, methane production curves generated in these assays also provide useful information about substrate degradation kinetics, which is rarely exploited. A basic understanding of the kinetics of the biogas process may be a first step towards a convergence of the assay methodologies on an international level. Following this assumption, a modeling toolbox containing an exponential model adjusted with a simple data-fitting method has been developed. This model should allow (a) quality control of the assays according to the goodness of fit of the model onto data series generated from the digestion of standard substrates, (b) interpretation of substrate degradation kinetics, and (c) estimate of the ultimate methane yield at infinite time. The exponential model is based on two assumptions: (a) the biogas process is a two-step reaction yielding VFA as intermediate products, and methane as the final product, and (b) the digestible substrate can be divided into a rapidly degradable and a slowly degradable fraction.


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