Biogas

The production of biogas by anaerobic fermentation of organic material such as manure, renewable raw materials, and organic waste is among the options for generating renewable energy. The operation of biogas plants is determined by the used organic material and the status of the anaerobic biomass. Difficulties are caused by the different characteristics of the organic materials as well as their varying quality and cost. Anaerobic biomass demands a special milieu and subsequently minor variations of pressure or temperature can influence activity of anaerobic biomass.

Due to the difficulty and complexity of managing biogas plants many are operated lacking optimization and on an economically low utilization rate. One contributing factor to the low process optimization is the lack of measurement technology and subsequently the lack of critical process information and data. The low utilization rate has economic consequences leading to a loss of revenue. In future, it will be the target to improve utilization and improve process stability. When new advancements lead to the necessary utilization of different organic materials resulting in increasing complexity of plant and operation concepts control and automation will play a key role in  the future.

Modeling and simulation can provide a decisive contribution to the development of control and automation concepts. The department of water and energy develops software tools allowing the modeling and simulation of biogas plants and sludge digestion in wastewater treatment plants. Simulation tools provide an excellent environment for the design and optimization of control concepts. Testing that is infeasible in a real world context due to economic and security reasons, can be carried out in an arbitrary number by simulation. The department of water and energy is engaged in research projects to promote modeling of anaerobic processes and to establish their use in design and optimization.