Anaerobic digestion

The following are some of the projects that we can offer:

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A Study of the Co-Digestion of Various Urban and Agricultural Wastes for Optimum Biogas Production


Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr Mark Walker and Professor Lin Ma

The proposed research would explore of the potential of anaerobic digestion to produce biogas from a number of different waste biomass sources that are ubiquitous throughout the world but are currently underutilized, and to co-digest them with more familiar anaerobic digestion feedstocks. A key objective will be to explore the relationship between digester design, scale and the ability to utilise biomass in a variety of co-digestion scenarios. This work would complement our current research into anaerobic digestion for electrification of rural communities in India. The research will benefit from the available experimental facilities including laboratory-scale digesters, excellent analytical facilities, expertise in the computer modelling of AD process kinetics, mass balance and operational strategies and links with industry through our collaborative work with micro-AD development sites in the UK.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr Mark Walker and Professor Lin Ma

In the urban environment at the household to institutional-scale the availability and composition of waste biomass feedstocks, suitable for biogas production, is likely to vary on a variety of timescales. This raises issues about how the AD system can be designed to meet the local energy demands and to be resilient to these changes in feedstock quantity and composition. This research will use a combination of modelling and experimental work to investigate and optimise the algorithms for optimal process control. The research will benefit from the available experimental facilities including laboratory-scale digesters, excellent analytical facilities, expertise in the computer modelling of AD process kinetics, mass balance and operational strategies and links with industry through our collaborative work.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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Expert control systems for AD systems


Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr Mark Walker and Professor Lin Ma

AD is non-linear process which is notoriously difficult to control automatically and therefore has in the past relied on expert operators to maintain the performance and stability of AD sites. At household to institutional scale this is financially unfeasible and therefore it is of great interest to investigate the possibility of expert control systems for AD plants. This work will consolidate the large amount of theoretical research performed in this area and select the most practical systems. These will be optimised using calibrated AD process models and tested at laboratory scale. The research will benefit from the available experimental facilities including laboratory-scale digesters, excellent analytical facilities, expertise in the computer modelling of AD process kinetics, mass balance and operational strategies and links with industry through our collaborative work with micro-AD development sites in the UK.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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Low cost remote monitoring systems for small scale AD sites


Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr Mark Walker and Professor Lin Ma

As a continuation of current research into this topic the aim of this project is assess the feasibility of using a set of low cost sensors, along with data acquisition and transmission hardware, to effectively manage the AD process remotely. This topic is of particular relevance for small scale AD since the cost of skilled management staff on-site is financially unfeasible. The work will involve the selection and field testing of a variety of hardware sensors in order to monitor critical parameters of the AD process. The research will benefit from the available experimental facilities including laboratory-scale digesters, excellent analytical facilities, expertise in the computer modelling of AD process kinetics, mass balance and operational strategies and links with industry through our collaborative work with micro-AD development sites in the UK.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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Advanced process modelling of AD


Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr Mark Walker and Professor Lin Ma

The AD group in is currently working at the state of the art in terms of the biochemical and physiochemical modelling of AD. The aim of this project would be to enhance this further by drawing upon other modelling expertise specifically in computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Such a combined approach can give greater insight into the process and allow design and process optimisation. This project will focus on a variety of strategies and design interventions that can increase the robustness of the AD process and will use a combination of modelling and experimental work to investigate and optimise these

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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AD for off-grid rural electrification

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Professor Lin Ma and Dr Mark Walker

AD has a huge potential to supply the energy needs of small communities across the world where grid connections are not available or unreliable, with a potential to increase quality of life and boost local economies. AD can be used alone or integrated with other small scale renewables to create a system that provides renewable and sustainable power at lower cost and reduced carbon intensity compared with grid electricity. This project will investigate the design and operation of such a system using process modelling in order to assess alternative configurations, operational strategies and scaling. The work will benefit from our existing academic links in rural India and will build on the recent BioCPV project which resulted in the installation of a 10 kW PV/AD energy system in a rural village, the data from which will be used for model validation.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham.

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Integration of algal biofuel and biogas production

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Professor Lin Ma and Dr Mark Walker

There is an increased international interest in the use of algae to sustainably produce liquid biofuels to meet future energy demands. Anaerobic digestion/biogas production is an ideal synergistic process to the algal biofuel production and could help to satisfy the local parasitic energy demand of the biofuel production process, in a similar way to how it is currently used in wastewater treatment. The potential synergies include nutrient recycling, residue valorisation, biogas upgrading to biomethane and reduced water use. This project will develop knowledge into the combination of these two technologies using an integrated process modelling, built from sub-models describing the component physical, chemical and biochemical conversions and processes. The model will be used to perform system wide optimisation and scaling studies and eventually lead to recommendations on large scale installation of the technology.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham.

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Biological production of methane from hydrogen

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Professor Lin Ma and Dr Mark Walker

Future electricity grids will rely on large scale two-way storage of chemical energy for balancing intermittent renewables with variation in demand. A novel technology for this purpose is the use of excess electrical energy to produce hydrogen which can be biologically converted to methane, via hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis, and then easily stored in existing natural gas infrastructure. The proposed work will create a process model to describe the process in order to ascertain the basic operating principles and to perform in silico testing of potential control systems. Validation of the developed models will be performed using existing experimental facilities and the project will benefit from existing academics and industrial collaborations in this area. Several potential applications of the hybrid technology are envisaged which will be investigated using the integrated process model, drawing from existing expertise in this area within Energy 2050.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham.

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