In many developing countries, simple biogas digesters are used to produce energy for domestic purposes from anaerobic digestion of animal manure. We developed a simple, one-dimensional (1-D), thermal model with easily-available input data for unheated, unstirred, uninsulated, fixed-dome digesters buried in the soil to study heat transfer between biogas digester and its surroundings. The predicted temperatures in the dome, biogas and slurry inside the digester and the resulting biogas production are presented and validated. The model was well able to estimate digester temperature (linear slope nearly 1, R2 0.96). Model validation for methane production gave root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 54.4 L CH4 digester-1 day-1 and relative-root-mean-square errors (rRMSEP(%)) of 35.4%. The validation result was considerably improved if only using winter data (RMSE = 26.1 L CH4 digester-1 day-1; rRMSEP(%) = 17.7%). The model performed satisfactorily in light of the uncertainties attached to it. Since unheated digesters suffer critically low methane production during the winter, the model could be particularly useful for assessing methane production and for improving the ability of unheated digesters to provide sufficient energy during cold periods.
Environmental Science and Technology (washington), 2014, Vol 48, Issue 6