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Modelling of food waste digestion using ADM1 integrated with Aspen Plus

Modelling of food waste digestion using ADM1 integrated with Aspen Plus
Modelling of food waste digestion using ADM1 integrated with Aspen Plus
The aim of this research was to produce an integrated modelling platform in which an anaerobic digester could be linked to the other unit operations which serve it, both in maintaining the physical-chemical conditions in the digester and in transforming the digestion products to useful fuel and nutrient sources. Within these system boundaries an accurate mass and energy balance could be determined and further optimised, particularly where the desired energy products are a mix of heat, power, and biomethane. The anaerobic digestion of food waste was choosen as the subject of the research because of its growing popularity and the availability of validation data.

Like many other organic substrates, food waste is potentially a good source of renewable energy in the form of biogas through anaerobic digestion. A number of experimental studies have, however, reported difficulties in the digestion of this material which may limit the applicability of the process. These arise from the complexity of the biochemical processes and the interaction between the microbial groups that make up the anaerobic community. When using food waste there is a tendency to accumulate intermediate volatile fatty acid products, and in particular propionic acid, which eventually causes the pH to drop and the digester to fail. Two factors are important in understanding and explaining the changes in the biochemical process that leads to this condition. The first is due to the differential in sensitivity to free ammonia of the two biochemical pathways that lead to methane formation. The acetoclastic methanogenic route is inhibited at a lower concentration than the hydrogenotrophic route, and methane formation therefore occurs almost exclusively via acetate oxidation to CO2 and H2 at high free ammonia concentrations. The accumulation of propionic acid is thought to be because formate, a product of its degradation, cannot be converted to CO2 and H2 as the necessary trace elements to build a formate dehydrogenase enzyme complex are missing.

The Anaerobic Digestion Model No. 1 (ADM1) was modified to reflect ammonia inhibition of acertoclastic methanogenesis and an acetate oxidation pathway was added. A further modification was included which allowed a 'metabolic switch' to operate in the model based on the availability of key trace elements. This operated through the H2 feedback inhibition route rather than creating a new set of equations to consider formate oxidation in its own right: the end result is, however, identical in modelling terms. With these two modifications ADM1 could simulate experimental observations from food waste digesters where the total ammoniacal nitrogen(TAN) concentration exceeded 4 gN l-1. Under these conditions acetate accumulation is first seen, followed by proprionate accumulation, but with the subsequent decrease in acetate until a critical pH is reached. The ADM1 model was implemented in MATLAB with these modifications incorporated.

The second part of the research developed an energy model which linked ADM1 to the mechanical processes for biogas upgrading, Combined Heat and Power (CHP)production, and the digester mixing system. The energy model components were developed in the framework of the Aspen Plus modelling platform, with sub-units for processes not available in the standard Aspen Package being developed in Fortran, MS Excel or using the Aspen Simulation Workbook (ASW). This integration of the process components allows accurate sizing of the CHP and direct heating units required for an anaerobic digestion plant designed for fuel grade methane production.

Based on the established model and its sub-modules, a number of case studies were developed. To this end the modified ADM1 was applied to mesophilic digestion of Sugar Beet Pulp to observe how the modified ADM1 responded to different substrate types. Secondly, to assess the capability of adding further mechanical processes the model was used to integrate and optimise single stage biogas upgrading. Finally, the digestion of food waste in the municipal solid waste stream of urban areas in Vietnam was considered.
anaerobic digestion, modelling, food waste, ADM1, aspen plus, biogas, water scrubbing, acetate oxidation, trace elements, ammonia removal
Nguyen, Hoa Huu
8e21fd87-b7cc-4439-8cc5-80f5a94cf1bb
Nguyen, Hoa Huu
8e21fd87-b7cc-4439-8cc5-80f5a94cf1bb
Banks, Charles
5c6c8c4b-5b25-4e37-9058-50fa8d2e926f
Heaven, Sonia
f25f74b6-97bd-4a18-b33b-a63084718571

Nguyen, Hoa Huu (2014) Modelling of food waste digestion using ADM1 integrated with Aspen Plus. University of Southampton, Department of Engineering and the Environment, Doctoral Thesis, 298pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The aim of this research was to produce an integrated modelling platform in which an anaerobic digester could be linked to the other unit operations which serve it, both in maintaining the physical-chemical conditions in the digester and in transforming the digestion products to useful fuel and nutrient sources. Within these system boundaries an accurate mass and energy balance could be determined and further optimised, particularly where the desired energy products are a mix of heat, power, and biomethane. The anaerobic digestion of food waste was choosen as the subject of the research because of its growing popularity and the availability of validation data.

Like many other organic substrates, food waste is potentially a good source of renewable energy in the form of biogas through anaerobic digestion. A number of experimental studies have, however, reported difficulties in the digestion of this material which may limit the applicability of the process. These arise from the complexity of the biochemical processes and the interaction between the microbial groups that make up the anaerobic community. When using food waste there is a tendency to accumulate intermediate volatile fatty acid products, and in particular propionic acid, which eventually causes the pH to drop and the digester to fail. Two factors are important in understanding and explaining the changes in the biochemical process that leads to this condition. The first is due to the differential in sensitivity to free ammonia of the two biochemical pathways that lead to methane formation. The acetoclastic methanogenic route is inhibited at a lower concentration than the hydrogenotrophic route, and methane formation therefore occurs almost exclusively via acetate oxidation to CO2 and H2 at high free ammonia concentrations. The accumulation of propionic acid is thought to be because formate, a product of its degradation, cannot be converted to CO2 and H2 as the necessary trace elements to build a formate dehydrogenase enzyme complex are missing.

The Anaerobic Digestion Model No. 1 (ADM1) was modified to reflect ammonia inhibition of acertoclastic methanogenesis and an acetate oxidation pathway was added. A further modification was included which allowed a 'metabolic switch' to operate in the model based on the availability of key trace elements. This operated through the H2 feedback inhibition route rather than creating a new set of equations to consider formate oxidation in its own right: the end result is, however, identical in modelling terms. With these two modifications ADM1 could simulate experimental observations from food waste digesters where the total ammoniacal nitrogen(TAN) concentration exceeded 4 gN l-1. Under these conditions acetate accumulation is first seen, followed by proprionate accumulation, but with the subsequent decrease in acetate until a critical pH is reached. The ADM1 model was implemented in MATLAB with these modifications incorporated.

The second part of the research developed an energy model which linked ADM1 to the mechanical processes for biogas upgrading, Combined Heat and Power (CHP)production, and the digester mixing system. The energy model components were developed in the framework of the Aspen Plus modelling platform, with sub-units for processes not available in the standard Aspen Package being developed in Fortran, MS Excel or using the Aspen Simulation Workbook (ASW). This integration of the process components allows accurate sizing of the CHP and direct heating units required for an anaerobic digestion plant designed for fuel grade methane production.

Based on the established model and its sub-modules, a number of case studies were developed. To this end the modified ADM1 was applied to mesophilic digestion of Sugar Beet Pulp to observe how the modified ADM1 responded to different substrate types. Secondly, to assess the capability of adding further mechanical processes the model was used to integrate and optimise single stage biogas upgrading. Finally, the digestion of food waste in the municipal solid waste stream of urban areas in Vietnam was considered.

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More information

Published date: June 2014
Keywords: anaerobic digestion, modelling, food waste, ADM1, aspen plus, biogas, water scrubbing, acetate oxidation, trace elements, ammonia removal
Organisations: University of Southampton, Water & Environmental Engineering Group

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 375082
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/375082
PURE UUID: c5ad30c7-5ad3-42f5-beaa-6110ae8b5a5c
ORCID for Sonia Heaven: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7798-4683

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Feb 2016 15:24
Last modified: 17 Mar 2020 01:25

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Contributors

Author: Hoa Huu Nguyen
Thesis advisor: Charles Banks
Thesis advisor: Sonia Heaven ORCID iD

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