Optimizing the performance of a reactor by reducing the retention time and addition of glycerin for anaerobically digesting manure

Timmerman, M.; Schuman, E.; Eekert, M.; Riel, J.W. van


Anaerobic digestion of manure is a widely accepted technology for energy production. However, only a minimal portion of the manure production in the EU is anaerobically digested and occurs predominantly in codigestion plants. There is substantial potential for biogas plants that primarily operate on manure (>90%); however, the methane yields of manure are less compared to coproducts, which is one of the reasons for manure-based biogas plants often being economically non-viable. Therefore, it is essential to begin increasing the efficiency of these biogas plants. This study investigated the effect of decreasing retention time and introducing a moderate amount of glycerin on the biogas production as methods to improve efficiency. An experiment has been conducted with two different manure types in four biogas reactors. The results of the study demonstrated that, first, it was possible to decrease the retention time to 10–15 days; however, the effect on biogas production varied per manure type. Secondly, the biogas production almost triples at a retention time of 15.6 days with an addition of 4% glycerin. The relative production-enhancing effect of glycerin did not vary significantly with both manure types. However, the absolute production-enhancing effect of glycerin differed per manure type since the biogas production per gram VS differed per manure type. Thirdly, the positive effect of the glycerin input declines with shorter retention times. Therefore, the effect of glycerin addition depends on the manure type and retention time.