Optimisation of Methane Production from Anaerobically Digested Cow Slurry Using Mixing Regime and Hydraulic Retention Time
Hughes, Kevin Lewis William
Date: 27 July 2015
University of Exeter
PhD in Renewable Energy
AD is regarded as a sustainable technology that could assist the UK Government meet internationally agreed GHG emission targets by 2050. However, the mature status of the technology is based on expensive systems that rely on high energy feedstock to be profitable. Meanwhile, the natural biodegradation of cow slurry is a recognised ...
AD is regarded as a sustainable technology that could assist the UK Government meet internationally agreed GHG emission targets by 2050. However, the mature status of the technology is based on expensive systems that rely on high energy feedstock to be profitable. Meanwhile, the natural biodegradation of cow slurry is a recognised contributor to climate change despite having a relatively low CH4 potential because of the large volumes produced. Economic mixing is essential to the cost-effectiveness of farm AD but techniques applied are not always appropriate as slurry is a shear thinning thixotropic Herschel-Bulkley fluid and therefore challenging to mix. The apparent viscosity of slurry and the shear stress induced was most influenced by solids content (exponential change) followed by temperature (linear). Most shear thinning occurred before a rising shear rate of 20s-1 was achieved with the fluid acting near-Newtonian above. Thixotropic recovery occurred within 1 hour of resting. Rheological values were also much higher than previously reported. Highest CH4 production occurred in the first 10 days of the batch process using a range of mixing regimes with different shear rates and rest periods. During fed-batch operations, changing shear rate had a minimal effect on CH4 production using a 30-day HRT whereas shorter rest periods increased production. Specific CH4 production rate was highest when feeding and mixing coincided. However, when HRT was reduced (OLR increased) the CH4 produced by all mixed regimes significantly increased with highest values being achieved using high intensity mixing rested for short periods. Lower HRTs also requires smaller digesters. Parasitic mixing energy invariably had the most influence on net energy production. Signs of instability were evident after 20 days using the low HRT. Significant microbial adaptation was also observed as the experiments progressed. The research outcomes demonstrate that mixing regime and HRT can be managed to maximise net energy production whilst reducing capital expenditure.
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