Anaerobic digestion modeling: from one to several bacterial populations
Anaerobic digestion systems are complex processes that unfortunately often suffer from instability causing digester failure. In order to be able to design, optimizing and operate efficiently anaerobic digestion systems, appropriate control strategies need to be designed. Such strategies require, in general, the development of mathematical models. The anaerobic digestion process comprises a complex network of sequential and parallel reactions of biochemical and physicochemical nature. Usually, such reactions contain a particular step, the so called rate-limiting step which, being the slowest, limits the reaction rate of the overall process. The first attempts for modeling anaerobic digestion led to models describing only the limiting step. However, over a wide range of operating conditions, the limiting step is not always the same. It may depend on wastewater characteristics, hydraulic loading, temperature, etc. It is apparent that the "limiting step hypothesis" leads to simple and readily usable models. Such models, however, do not describe very well the digester behavior, especially under transient operating conditions. This work reviews the current state-of-the-art in anaerobic digestion modeling. We give a brief description of the key anaerobic digestion models that have been developed so far for describing biomass growth systems, including the International Water Association’s Anaerobic Digestion Model 1 (ADM1) and we identify the areas that require further research endeavors.
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