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Title: Soft sensor development and process control of anaerobic digestion
Author: Argyropoulos, Anastasios
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis focuses on soft sensor development based on fuzzy logic used for real time online monitoring of anaerobic digestion to improve methane output and for robust fermentation. Important process parameter indicators such as pH, biogas production, daily difference in pH and daily difference in biogas production were used to infer alkalinity, a reliable indicator of process stability. Additionally, a fuzzy logic and a rule-based controller were developed and tested with single stage anaerobic digesters operating with cow slurry and cellulose. Alkalinity predictions from the fuzzy logic algorithm were used by both controllers to regulate the organic loading rate that aimed to optimise the biogas process. The predictive performance of a software sensor determining alkalinity that was designed using fuzzy logic and subtractive clustering and was validated against multiple linear regression models that were developed (Partner N° 2, Rothamsted Research 2010) for the same purpose. More accurate alkalinity predictions were achieved by utilizing a fuzzy software sensor designed with less amount of data compared to a multiple linear regression model whose design was based on a larger database. Those models were utilised to control the organic loading rate of a twostage, semi-continuously fed stirred reactor system. Three 5l reactors without support media and three 5l reactors with different support media (burst cell reticulated polyurethane foam coarse, burst cell reticulated polyurethane foam medium and sponge) were operated with cow slurry for a period of seven weeks and twenty weeks respectively. Reactors with support media were proven to be more stable than the reactors without support media but did not exhibit higher gas productivity. Biomass support media were found to influence digester recovery positively by reducing the recovery period. Optimum process parameter ranges were identified for reactors with and without support media. Increased biogas production was found to occur when the loading rates were 3-3.5g VS/l/d and 4-5g VS/l/d respectively. Optimum pH ranges were identified between 7.1-7.3 and 6.9-7.2 for reactors with and without support media respectively, whereas all reactors became unstable at ph<6.9. Alkalinity levels for system stability appeared to be above 3500 mg/l of HCO3 - for reactors without media and 3480 mg/l of HCO3 - for reactors with support media. Biogas production was maximized when alkalinity was 3 between 3500-4500 mg/l of HCO3 - for reactors without support media and 3480- 4300 mg/l of HCO3 - for reactors with support media. Two fuzzy logic models predicting alkalinity based on the operation of the three 5l reactors with support media were developed (FIS I, FIS II). The FIS II design was based on a larger database than FIS I. FIS II performance when applied to the reactor where sponge was used as the support media was characterized by quite good MAE and bias values of 466.53 mg/l of HCO3- and an acceptable value for R2= 0.498. The NMSE was close to 0 with a value of 0.03 and a slightly higher FB= 0.154 than desired. The fuzzy system robustness was tested by adding NaHCO3 to the reactor with the burst cell reticulated polyurethane foam medium and by diluting the reactor where sponge was used as the support media with water. FIS I and FIS II were able to follow the system output closely in the first case, but not in the second. FIS II functionality as an alkalinity predictor was tested through the application on a 28l cylindrical reactor with sponge as the biomass support media treating cow manure. If data that was recorded when severe temperature fluctuations occurred (that highly impact digester performance), are excluded, FIS II performance can be characterized as good by having R2= 0.54 and MAE=Bias= 587 mg/l of HCO3-. Predicted alkalinity values followed observed alkalinity values closely during the days that followed NaHCO3 addition and water dilution. In a second experiment a rulebased and a Mamdani fuzzy logic controller were developed to regulate the organic loading rate based on alkalinity predictions from FIS II. They were tested through the operation of five 6.5l reactors with biomass support media treating cellulose. The performance indices of MAE=763.57 mg/l of HCO3-, Bias= 398.39 mg/l of HCO3-, R2= 0.38 and IA= 0.73 indicate a pretty good correlation between predicted and observed values. However, although both controllers managed to keep alkalinity within the desired levels suggested for stability (>3480 mg/l of HCO3-), the reactors did not reach a stable state suggesting that different loading rates should be applied for biogas systems treating cellulose.
Supervisor: Townley, Stuart Sponsor: New Generation Biogas (NGB)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: anaerobic digestion ; soft sensor ; fuzzy logic ; control