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Sustainable Energy Production by Aerobic and Anaerobic Digestion of Bio-Waste

Sustainable Energy Production by Aerobic and Anaerobic Digestion of Bio-Waste

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Published by Pavan Kumar P N
This paper is intended to address the most important topic of today's world, „Energy Shortage‟. One way of solving it is to make all the rural areas in the country, self sufficient in their power needs. Since agriculture and animal husbandry are two main occupations of the rural masses, and since they contribute to tonnes of waste every month, we present two novel ideas - aerobic and anaerobic digestion of bio-waste to generate the required electric power for the village. The aerobic digestion pit achieves a high thermal energy output. The anaerobic digester generates methane using a custom bio-waste processor that increases the output of resulting biogas (mostly CH4). We present the use of methanogens that increase the amount of methane produced by ~18%. We also note that by using hyper-thermophiles, we can increase the temperature of the aerobic digester to a maximum of 950C to increase thermal output. The resulting methane can be used to generate electricity. The heat from the aerobic digester can be used to either generate electricity or increase the temperature of anaerobic reaction which further increases the methane output.
This paper is intended to address the most important topic of today's world, „Energy Shortage‟. One way of solving it is to make all the rural areas in the country, self sufficient in their power needs. Since agriculture and animal husbandry are two main occupations of the rural masses, and since they contribute to tonnes of waste every month, we present two novel ideas - aerobic and anaerobic digestion of bio-waste to generate the required electric power for the village. The aerobic digestion pit achieves a high thermal energy output. The anaerobic digester generates methane using a custom bio-waste processor that increases the output of resulting biogas (mostly CH4). We present the use of methanogens that increase the amount of methane produced by ~18%. We also note that by using hyper-thermophiles, we can increase the temperature of the aerobic digester to a maximum of 950C to increase thermal output. The resulting methane can be used to generate electricity. The heat from the aerobic digester can be used to either generate electricity or increase the temperature of anaerobic reaction which further increases the methane output.

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Published by: Pavan Kumar P N on Mar 27, 2011
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07/25/2013

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“Sustainable Energy
Production by Aerobic andAnaerobic Digestion of Bio-Waste
Pavan Kumar P N, Manu Kumar S, Ashish K K 
 E & C Department, MSRIT 
  Bangalore, INDIA
pavan24@ieee.orgmanukumar.sk@gmail.com95.ashish@gmail.com
Abstract- 
This paper is intended to address the most importanttopic of today's world,
„Energy Shortage‟. One way of solving it
is to make all the rural areas in the country, self sufficient intheir power needs. Since agriculture and animal husbandry aretwo main occupations of the rural masses, and since theycontribute to tonnes of waste every month, we present two novelideas - aerobic and anaerobic digestion of bio-waste to generatethe required electric power for the village. The aerobic digestionpit achieves a high thermal energy output. The anaerobicdigester generates methane using a custom bio-waste processorthat increases the output of resulting biogas (mostly CH
4
). Wepresent the use of methanogens that increase the amount of methane produced by ~18%. We also note that by using hyper-thermophiles, we can increase the temperature of the aerobicdigester to a maximum of 95
0
C to increase thermal output.The resulting methane can be used to generate electricity. Theheat from the aerobic digester can be used to either generateelectricity or increase the temperature of anaerobic reactionwhich further increases the methane output.
Keywords 
 — 
 
Aerobic Decomposition Plant, Anaerobicdecomposition plant, Methanogens, Bio-Waste Processor.
 
I.
 
I
 NTRODUCTION
 Agriculture has to this day remained as one of our 
country’s major occupations, and the farmer is the backbone
of our country. Hence, the government has provided many benefits and subsidiaries to the rural population, power or electricity at lower rates being one of them. But, in the last 2-3
years, the country has been facing heavy “power shortages”
due to irregular rain patterns, and longer summers.The solutions we intend to implement in these villages is thatof processing of bio-waste found in and around the ruralgeography and extract energy from it and use it to generateelectricity.The proposed idea aims at simplicity and efficiency while being clean and cost efficient to adopt. The idea aims atconverting all waste available in the rural areas efficiently toenergy. Separate digesters are used for plant and animalwaste for efficient conversion into energy and mathematical proofs for these are given later in the article.II.
 
CONCEPT
 
AND
 
RESULTSPlant and animal waste are collected from in and around therural area in consideration and are piled up for use in thereactors/digesters.We intend to use separate digestion processes for plant andanimal waste i.e. aerobic process for decomposition of plantwaste and anaerobic process for decomposition of animalwaste respectively.The main intention for using different processes is that theseparate digestion pits aim to achieve better efficiencyindividually in converting wastes to energy, as animal wastedo not efficiently decompose under aerobic conditions as theydo under anaerobic conditions, and vice versa for the plantwaste.
 A.
 
Working of the Aerobic Decomposition Plant 
Plants decompose under two processes - aerobic andanaerobic processes. Aerobic process is where the glucose andother carbohydrates are oxidized in presence of a lot of oxygen to give CO
2
and H
2
O. Anaerobic process is whereglucose is oxidized in insufficient oxygen to give methane as a byproduct along with other gases.Chemically, anaerobic decomposition employs an electrontransport chain, with inorganic molecules other than oxygenused as a final electron acceptor.An example for the intermediate process can beglucose + 3SO
42-
+ 3H
+
 
6HCO
3-
+ 3SH
-
,
ΔG
0'
= - 453 kJ.The terminal electron acceptors (sulfate SO
42-
) have smaller reduction potentials than O
2
, i.e. meaning that less energy isreleased per oxidized molecule of primary electron donor inthe above reactions) than in aerobic respiration (i.e. the process of aerobic decomposition is less energeticallyefficient).The equation for the oxidative decomposition of glucose isgiven asC
6
H
12
O
6
+ 6O
2
 
6CO
2
+ 6H
2
O + 686kcalSince the molar mass of glucose is 180 gm, 1000kg (1tonne ) of assorted plant waste contains 5555.55 moles of glucose.
 
The above reaction, being exothermic, liberates 686 kcal(2872.15kJ) of heat energy on an average for each mole of glucose that is consumed. Hence, the amount of chemicalenergy (heat) present in the assorted waste is 1.595 x 10
7
kJ.On an average <REF>, about 4 tons of plant waste can becollected and piled per month and the net chemical energy present in 4 tonnes of plant waste is 63.8 x 10
6
kJ.If this energy is completely converted to electrical energy,63.8 x 10
6
kJ / (3.6 x 10
6
J/kWh) = 17722.22 kWh of electric power can be generated per month.To achieve aerobic decomposition, we use a speciallydesigned digester. Plant waste from all sources in and nearbythe village are collected and introduced into the digestion pit.The waste starts decomposing due to the presence of mesophilic bacteria in the waste and once the temperaturereaches 40°C, thermophilic bacteria enter the decomposition process and raise the temperature to an optimal level of 65°C.The increase in temperature occurs because of the breakingdown of complex glucose molecules into simpler moleculeslike Carbon dioxide and water. This process also releasesenormous quantities of energy which occurs in the form of heat.For the above reaction to occur, sufficient oxygen andwater must be supplied to the digestion pit and hence an air  pipe is used to supply sufficient oxygen. Since the air can cooldown the digester and slow down the reaction, it is heated byencircling it around the digester and then the hot air is sent in.Water inlets are also provided. Correct levels of humidity (60- 70%) has to be maintained from the reaction to take place.Also since the reaction liberates CO
2
, it collects on the bottomof the pit as it relatively heavy. This is let out using valves andtubes along the bottom of the digester. Sensors are used tomonitor CO
2
and humidity levels and proper actions are takeif there are any inconsistencies.
Fig. 1. Construction of the Aerobic digestion plant
The digester also has stirrers keep the reactant material inconstant motion so as to distribute O
2
freely throughout thedigester and prevent any occurrence of anaerobic digestion init. The stirrer is powered by vertical shaft wind turbines as thewinds in rural areas are low level winds and are sufficientlystring.The carbon-nitrogen ration of the plant waste has also to bekept in consideration as, If the compost mix is too low innitrogen, it will not heat up. If the nitrogen proportion is toohigh, the compost may become too hot, killing the compostmicroorganisms, or it may go anaerobic, resulting in a foul-smelling mess. The usual recommended range for C/N ratiosat the start of the composting process is about 30/1, but thisideal may vary depending on the bioavailability of the carbonand nitrogen. As carbon gets converted to carbon dioxide (andassuming minimal nitrogen losses) the C/N ratio decreasesduring the composting process, with the ratio of finishedcompost typically close to 10/1.Grass clippings and other green vegetation tend to have a higher proportion of nitrogen(and therefore a lower C/N ratio) than brown vegetation suchas dried leaves or wood chips.
[1]
 The maximum temperature reached in this process is~65
0
C and the thermophilic bacteria decompose lessefficiently at temperatures > 65
0
C and around 75
0
C, the bacteria start to die. If higher temperatures aredesired,
hyperthermophilic
bacteria (specifically of bacteria of the genus
Thermus
) can be used to get temperatures up to95
0
C, but the practicality of their usage has to be further studied.
 B.
 
Working of Anaerobic Digestion Plant 
Animal waste, predominantly cow dung is collected fromthe village, and dumped in the bio-waste processor.C
6
H
12
O
6
 
→ 3CO2
+ 3CH
4
 The principle behind this bio-waste processor is to providea favourable medium for the culture of microorganismsensuring the efficient conversion of dung to methane. Theslurry (10% dung in water) is introduced into the bioreactor from the inlet on the left of the bioreactor. To allow for maximum extraction of methane, rotor blades are used to stir the contents of the pit continuouslySteam is supplied through the inlet valve to maintain thetemperature and pressure inside the bioreactor. Thetemperature and pressure gauge continuously monitors the pressure and temperature changes within the bioreactor. Theoptimum temperature that is to be maintained in the bioreactor is between 38-40 degrees Celsius and the optimum pressure is1atm. If the temperature or the pressure goes below theoptimum value, steam is supplied through the valve tomaintain the conditions inside the reactor. The used up sludgeis taken out through the opening provided at the bottom of the bioreactor.In order to increase the production of methane (maincomponent of biogas), Methanogens or methane producing

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