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Title: A multi-parameter empirical model for mesophilic anaerobic digestion
Author: Ogbonna, Emmanuel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 8167
Awarding Body: University of Hertfordshire
Current Institution: University of Hertfordshire
Date of Award: 2017
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Anaerobic digestion, which is the process by which bacteria breakdown organic matter to produce biogas (renewable energy source) and digestate (biofertiliser) in the absence of oxygen, proves to be the ideal concept not only for sustainable energy provision but also for effective organic waste management. However, the production amount of biogas to keep up with the global demand is limited by the underperformance in the system implementing the AD process. This underperformance is due to the difficulty in obtaining and maintaining the optimal operating parameters/states for anaerobic bacteria to thrive with regards to attaining a specific critical population number, which results in maximising the biogas production. This problem continues to exist as a result of insufficient knowledge of the interactions between the operating parameters and bacterial community. In addition, the lack of sufficient knowledge of the composition of bacterial groups that varies with changes in the operating parameters such as temperature, substrate and retention time. Without sufficient knowledge of the overall impact of the physico-environmental operating parameters on anaerobic bacterial growth and composition, significant improvement of biogas production may be difficult to attain. In order to mitigate this problem, this study has presented a nonlinear multi-parameter system modelling of mesophilic AD. It utilised raw data sets generated from laboratory experimentation of the influence of four operating parameters, temperature, pH, mixing speed and pressure on biogas and methane production, signifying that this is a multiple input single output (MISO) system. Due to the nonlinear characteristics of the data, the nonlinear black-box modelling technique is applied. The modelling is performed in MATLAB through System Identification approach. Two nonlinear model structures, autoregressive with exogenous input (NARX) and Hammerstein-Wiener (NLHW) with different nonlinearity estimators and model orders are chosen by trial and error and utilised to estimate the models. The performance of the models is determined by comparing the simulated outputs of the estimated models and the output in the validation data. The approach is used to validate the estimated models by checking how well the simulated output of the models fits the measured output. The best models for biogas and methane production are chosen by comparing the outputs of the best NARX and NLHW models (each for biogas and methane production), and the validation data, as well as utilising the Akaike information criterion to measure the quality of each model relative to each of the other models. The NLHW models mhw2 and mhws2 are chosen for biogas and methane production, respectively. The identified NLHW models mhw2 and mhws2 represent the behaviour of the production of biogas and methane, respectively, from mesophilic AD. Among all the candidate models studied, the nonlinear models provide a superior reproduction of the experimental data over the whole analysed period. Furthermore, the models constructed in this study cannot be used for scale-up purpose because they are not able to satisfy the rules and criteria for applying dimensional analysis to scale-up.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anaerobic digestion ; Mesophilic bacteria ; Biogas production ; Methane production ; System Identification ; Black-box models ; Hammerstein-Wiener models ; Nonlinear autoregressive exogenous models ; model scale-up