The Design and Theory of a Basic Anaerobic Digester
With environmental issues such as the greenhouse effect and correct waste disposal methods gaining much attentionthroughout the community, the concept of controlled anaerobic digestion is perhaps a much overlooked example of away to reduce green house gas emissions and provide a better waste disposal method for organic waste.
Controlled anaerobic digestion is by no means a radical or new concept. Large scale industrial digesters and smalldomestic digesters are in operation in many places around the world. The purpose of all these digesters is to producecombustible biogas which can be burned to provide energy for a whole range of uses. Here in Australia, there is quitea bit of ideological interest in anaerobic digestion and biogas production, particularly from intensive farmers, butthere are not many examples of digesters in operation. These farmers are interested in this topic primarily as analternative energy source (biogas), and secondly, as part of an efficient effluent waste disposal system for the farm.Somehow there seems to be a problem in finding ways to put controlled anaerobic digestion into practice on theaverage Australian farm. There is almost a small library of information from all over the world on this topic, but thisinformation doesn't seem to be reaching the average intensive farmer with some interest in this topic. Why isn't thisconcept being utilized more? There could be a number of possible reasons for this including the capital cost of settingup an anaerobic digester project, a lack of working models and / or a lack of a source of ideas to base individualprojects on, i.e. - trouble shooting and project development at a technical 'on farm' level. The purpose of this projectwas to develop a small scale working prototype possibly suited to operate on the average farm. The focus of thisproject was the production of usable (combustible) biogas. This project is definitely not supposed to be revolutionaryor radically new, but rather to be a starting point for further research and development in this area.The purpose of this report is not to provide a method for the fabrication of the project produced (although a basicmaterials list will be provided). Rather, this report will aim to identify key aspects of the design, concentrating ontheir function and the theory behind their function. Therefore, the aim of this report is to provide the reader with abasic explanation of the mechanics of a small, continuous flow anaerobic digester.
The purpose of this project was to design and build an anaerobic digester to meet the following criteria.The design should
attempt to maximize the amount of biogas produced per unit time,
be a continuous flow anaerobic digester. This has been specified because it seems that this will be the mostpractical design for continuous operation in a farm situation.
be simple and easy to understand so that the average person is able to grasp the function and theory behind eachcomponent of the design with only a small amount of guidance. The idea here is to encourage people looking atthe design to think and understand the requirements for controlled anaerobic digestion and the continuous flowmodel.
be a durable, compact, versatile design which is capable of being shifted around if necessary to be displayed.
be operated with a minimum of monitoring, regulating, and adjusting (in other words, be easy to operate).
attempt to reduce time and money costs associated with maintenance