Major

Environmental Engineering

Anticipated Graduation Year

2021

Access Type

Open Access

Abstract

The team, comprised of three senior environmental engineering students from Loyola University Chicago, is working with the non-profit organization Plant Chicago to design an anaerobic digester system that focuses on circular economy and waste diversion. Anaerobic digestion is a microbial process that is used to convert agricultural and organic waste into liquid digestate and biogas. Liquid digestate can be a useful fertilizer, and biogas can be used in both heat and electricity applications. In order to create a system that is efficient and useful for Plant Chicago’s operations, the team executed a series of experiments to study anaerobic digestion on a small scale as well as explore different design options. The experimental systems were given inoculum from a local wastewater treatment plant and studied in terms of the microbial colony health, biogas yield, and digestate yield. Controls such as temperature and continuous mixing will help inform the best environment for the system the team will recommend to Plant Chicago. Using all this data and research, the team will be able to determine an anaerobic digester design for Plant Chicago that will best suit their operations and bolster their waste reduction efforts.

Faculty Mentors & Instructors

Dr. Gajan Sivandran, Clinical Assistant Professor, Engineering

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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Implementation of a Small-Scale Anaerobic Digester

The team, comprised of three senior environmental engineering students from Loyola University Chicago, is working with the non-profit organization Plant Chicago to design an anaerobic digester system that focuses on circular economy and waste diversion. Anaerobic digestion is a microbial process that is used to convert agricultural and organic waste into liquid digestate and biogas. Liquid digestate can be a useful fertilizer, and biogas can be used in both heat and electricity applications. In order to create a system that is efficient and useful for Plant Chicago’s operations, the team executed a series of experiments to study anaerobic digestion on a small scale as well as explore different design options. The experimental systems were given inoculum from a local wastewater treatment plant and studied in terms of the microbial colony health, biogas yield, and digestate yield. Controls such as temperature and continuous mixing will help inform the best environment for the system the team will recommend to Plant Chicago. Using all this data and research, the team will be able to determine an anaerobic digester design for Plant Chicago that will best suit their operations and bolster their waste reduction efforts.