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“Sustainable Energy Production by Aerobic and

Anaerobic Digestion of Bio-Waste”

Pavan Kumar P N, Manu Kumar S, Ashish K K
E & C Department, MSRIT

Bangalore, INDIA

Abstract- This paper is intended to address the most important

topic of today's world, „Energy Shortage‟. One way of solving it II. CONCEPT AND RESULTS
is to make all the rural areas in the country, self sufficient in Plant and animal waste are collected from in and around the
their power needs. Since agriculture and animal husbandry are
rural area in consideration and are piled up for use in the
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 We intend to use separate digestion processes for plant and
the required electric power for the village. The aerobic digestion animal waste i.e. aerobic process for decomposition of plant
pit achieves a high thermal energy output. The anaerobic waste and anaerobic process for decomposition of animal
digester generates methane using a custom bio-waste processor waste respectively.
that increases the output of resulting biogas (mostly CH4). We The main intention for using different processes is that the
present the use of methanogens that increase the amount of separate digestion pits aim to achieve better efficiency
methane produced by ~18%. We also note that by using hyper- individually in converting wastes to energy, as animal waste
thermophiles, we can increase the temperature of the aerobic
do not efficiently decompose under aerobic conditions as they
digester to a maximum of 950C to increase thermal output.
The resulting methane can be used to generate electricity. The
do under anaerobic conditions, and vice versa for the plant
heat from the aerobic digester can be used to either generate waste.
electricity or increase the temperature of anaerobic reaction
A. Working of the Aerobic Decomposition Plant
which further increases the methane output.

Plants decompose under two processes - aerobic and

Keywords— Aerobic Decomposition Plant, Anaerobic
anaerobic processes. Aerobic process is where the glucose and
decomposition plant, Methanogens, Bio-Waste Processor.
other carbohydrates are oxidized in presence of a lot of
I. INTRODUCTION oxygen to give CO2and H2O. Anaerobic process is where
glucose is oxidized in insufficient oxygen to give methane as a
Agriculture has to this day remained as one of our
byproduct along with other gases.
country’s major occupations, and the farmer is the backbone
Chemically, anaerobic decomposition employs an electron
of our country. Hence, the government has provided many
transport chain, with inorganic molecules other than oxygen
benefits and subsidiaries to the rural population, power or
used as a final electron acceptor.
electricity at lower rates being one of them. But, in the last 2-3
An example for the intermediate process can be
years, the country has been facing heavy “power shortages”
due to irregular rain patterns, and longer summers. glucose + 3SO42- + 3H+ → 6HCO3- + 3SH- , ΔG0' = - 453 kJ.
The solutions we intend to implement in these villages is that The terminal electron acceptors (sulfate SO42-) have smaller
of processing of bio-waste found in and around the rural reduction potentials than O2, i.e. meaning that less energy is
geography and extract energy from it and use it to generate released per oxidized molecule of primary electron donor in
electricity. the above reactions) than in aerobic respiration (i.e. the
The proposed idea aims at simplicity and efficiency while process of aerobic decomposition is less energetically
being clean and cost efficient to adopt. The idea aims at efficient).
converting all waste available in the rural areas efficiently to The equation for the oxidative decomposition of glucose is
energy. Separate digesters are used for plant and animal given as
waste for efficient conversion into energy and mathematical C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O + 686kcal
proofs for these are given later in the article. Since the molar mass of glucose is 180 gm, 1000kg (1
tonne ) of assorted plant waste contains 5555.55 moles of
The above reaction, being exothermic, liberates 686 kcal The digester also has stirrers keep the reactant material in
(2872.15kJ) of heat energy on an average for each mole of constant motion so as to distribute O2 freely throughout the
glucose that is consumed. Hence, the amount of chemical digester and prevent any occurrence of anaerobic digestion in
energy (heat) present in the assorted waste is 1.595 x 10 7 kJ. it. The stirrer is powered by vertical shaft wind turbines as the
On an average <REF>, about 4 tons of plant waste can be winds in rural areas are low level winds and are sufficiently
collected and piled per month and the net chemical energy string.
present in 4 tonnes of plant waste is 63.8 x 10 6 kJ. The carbon-nitrogen ration of the plant waste has also to be
If this energy is completely converted to electrical energy, kept in consideration as, If the compost mix is too low in
63.8 x 106 kJ / (3.6 x 106 J/kWh) = 17722.22 kWh of electric nitrogen, it will not heat up. If the nitrogen proportion is too
power can be generated per month. high, the compost may become too hot, killing the compost
To achieve aerobic decomposition, we use a specially microorganisms, or it may go anaerobic, resulting in a foul-
designed digester. Plant waste from all sources in and nearby smelling mess. The usual recommended range for C/N ratios
the village are collected and introduced into the digestion pit. at the start of the composting process is about 30/1, but this
The waste starts decomposing due to the presence of ideal may vary depending on the bioavailability of the carbon
mesophilic bacteria in the waste and once the temperature and nitrogen. As carbon gets converted to carbon dioxide (and
reaches 40°C, thermophilic bacteria enter the decomposition assuming minimal nitrogen losses) the C/N ratio decreases
process and raise the temperature to an optimal level of 65°C. during the composting process, with the ratio of finished
The increase in temperature occurs because of the breaking compost typically close to 10/1.Grass clippings and other
down of complex glucose molecules into simpler molecules green vegetation tend to have a higher proportion of nitrogen
like Carbon dioxide and water. This process also releases (and therefore a lower C/N ratio) than brown vegetation such
enormous quantities of energy which occurs in the form of as dried leaves or wood chips.[1]
heat. The maximum temperature reached in this process is
For the above reaction to occur, sufficient oxygen and ~650C and the thermophilic bacteria decompose less
water must be supplied to the digestion pit and hence an air efficiently at temperatures > 650C and around 750C, the
pipe is used to supply sufficient oxygen. Since the air can cool bacteria start to die. If higher temperatures are
down the digester and slow down the reaction, it is heated by desired, hyperthermophilic bacteria (specifically of bacteria of
encircling it around the digester and then the hot air is sent in. the genus Thermus) can be used to get temperatures up to
Water inlets are also provided. Correct levels of humidity (60 950C, but the practicality of their usage has to be further
- 70%) has to be maintained from the reaction to take place. studied.
Also since the reaction liberates CO2, it collects on the bottom
of the pit as it relatively heavy. This is let out using valves and
tubes along the bottom of the digester. Sensors are used to B. Working of Anaerobic Digestion Plant
monitor CO2 and humidity levels and proper actions are take Animal waste, predominantly cow dung is collected from
if there are any inconsistencies. the village, and dumped in the bio-waste processor.
C6H12O6 → 3CO2 + 3CH4
The principle behind this bio-waste processor is to provide
a favourable medium for the culture of microorganisms
ensuring the efficient conversion of dung to methane. The
slurry (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 continuously
Steam is supplied through the inlet valve to maintain the
temperature and pressure inside the bioreactor. The
temperature and pressure gauge continuously monitors the
pressure and temperature changes within the bioreactor. The
optimum temperature that is to be maintained in the bioreactor
is between 38-40 degrees Celsius and the optimum pressure is
1atm. If the temperature or the pressure goes below the
optimum value, steam is supplied through the valve to
maintain the conditions inside the reactor. The used up sludge
is taken out through the opening provided at the bottom of the
In order to increase the production of methane (main
component of biogas), Methanogens or methane producing
Fig. 1. Construction of the Aerobic digestion plant
Archaea are added to the bioreactor after a small amount of then 5670 kWh of electric power can be extracted every day,
waste has been decomposed. i.e. 170100 kWh of electric power per month.
If 45% efficiency is assumed in the conversion to electrical
energy, 76545 kWh of electric energy per month (or 2551.5
kWh per day) can be practically realized.

Thus, 94267 kWh of power can be generated per month

which is the sum of power obtained from the Aerobic and
Anaerobic digestion plants.

Our concept is expected to be good enough to satisfy the
energy needs of the village in consideration. This can be
extended to all rural villages in the future after it is proved
successful in the village under consideration. The implication
of the idea suits everyone and is novel as explained in the
above sections. The idea is eco-friendly, simple and efficient
while being acceptable to the rural community in question.
Environmentally, the energy obtained is clean and hence is
a better alternative to other conventional ways of energy
generation which are known to be either non-eco-friendly or
being inefficient. New concepts like introduction of
methanogens and the concept of extracting energy from
aerobic decomposition are new, elegant, simple and efficient.
Fig. 2. Parts of the Anaerobic digestion Plant (Bio Waste Processor) As indicated in “Potential Impact” section, these first time
Methanogens are microorganisms that produce methane as a ideas may go a long way in the fight against the current fossil-
metabolic by-product in anoxic conditions. They are common fuel crisis.
in wetlands, where they are responsible for marsh gas, and in The most notable point of this idea is that it is by far a
the guts of animals such as ruminants and humans, where they better alternative to the currently existing energy solutions. If
are responsible for the methane content of flatulence. the proposed idea is implemented, and if it is successful, all
This is achieved as a result of the consecutive biochemical villages in India may in the near future be self sufficient in
breakdown of polymers to methane and carbon dioxide in an their energy needs. A complete proof is provided in which the
environment in which varieties of microorganisms which mathematics indicate that the plant can efficiently generate the
include fermentative microbes (acidogens); hydrogen- required energy, far outweighing the energy required for the
producing, acetate-forming microbes (acetogens); and running of the plant. The government of India may even
methane-producing microbes (methanogens) harmoniously consider not supplying energy to these self-sufficient villages.
grow and produce reduced end-products. Anaerobes play This also means that more energy is available to the cities and
important roles in establishing a stable environment at various towns, leading to the country’s economic growth.
stages of methane fermentation. But more importantly, it has the great potential to act as a
According to our calculations, the addition of methanogens driving force in the never ending quest for a cleaner, greener
will enhance the methane production by around 5%. and hence a better tomorrow.

1) Theory and calculations: In the bio-waste digester we
are using, 65% of the biogas is composed of methane. Sincere thanks to Principal, MSRIT, to all our friends and
Typical digester gas, with a methane concentration of 65% , family members, and to all who contributed directly or
contains about 600 Btu (0.1758kWh) of energy per cubic indirectly for the success of the project.
foot(0.02832m3) [ 2 ]
Hence, an average of 6.2076 kWh per m3 of biogas can be REFERENCES
extracted. [1], Carbon to Nitrogen Ratios.
On an average a cow gives about 24kg of dung per day, out of [2] Conversions obtained from Bio-Energy in Oregon website
which we can effectively collect 20 kg of dung per day which
in turn gives 1m3 of bio gas on decomposition. But, the [3] Rural Development and Panchayat Raj System, Karnataka, INDIA
addition of methanogens increase production of bio gas Census Information
increases by 5%. [4] China’s Methane power plant
Hence, 20kg of dung gives 1.05 m3 of biogas.
If an average of 900 cattle is assumed to be present per village, [5] Gujrat Energy Development Authority, Biogas programme