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Types and

Construction of
Biogas Plant
Zeeshan Syed Faheem

Biogas has to become an energy source in
future because of vulnerability of fossil fuel.
So, like other advanced scientific fields, biogas
production also needs very carefully
manufactured infrastructure so that it could be
fully exploited for maximum production of

Types of Biogas Plants

On-farm or small scale biogas plants

Smaller in size
Easy sustainability for one household energy needs

Industrial or Full-scale biogas plants

Works Centrally
Farmers of surrounding area are supposed to
support this plant in terms of input slurry

Floating Cover Digesters
Fixed Cover Digesters
Plastic Cover Digesters/Balloon

Floating Cover Digesters

commonly made from brick and cement
covers with a floating steel cylinder with an open
This cylinder moves up with the higher gas
production and moves down in the opposite case
Constant Volume Plant

of Floating Cover Digesters
Works on constant gas pressure principle
Changing volume and gas volume is quite
visible due to a visible rise in the drum

Cost of floating drum construction is high

Requires continuous maintenance like paints etc
Short life due to corrosion of metallic drum

Floating Cover Digesters

Fixed Cover Digesters

Also made from brick and cement
Pressure increases with the production of gas
and expels some digester liquid into the
compensation compartment
Pressure of digester decreases when gas
consumption is higher which again lets the
digester liquid expel but this time in reverse

Fixed Cover Digesters

Low construction cost

No moving parts are involved
No rusting metal parts are involved, relatively
long life

Temperature of fixed cover plants keeps

relatively low
Its construction is recommended at only those
places where construction work can be
supervised by experienced biogas technicians

Fixed Cover digesters

Plastic Cover/Balloon
Long cylindrical bag made of rubber or polythene
or PVC materials
Usually half buried in the ground having one inlet
at one end and one outlet at other end
Bag swells like a balloon with the production of
Pipe outlet for gas

of Plastic Cover/Balloon

Low cost, easy to transport type of plant

Easy to maintain e.g. cleaning, emptying et c.
Relatively high temperature can be maintained
in this type of plant

Life of this plant is short e.g. 5 years maximum

Its vulnerable to be damaged easily

Plastic Cover/Balloon

Designing a Biogas Plant

Shape and Load Bearing Capacities
Main digester usually constructed underground
in a on-farm biogas plant
Internal and external forces can damage the
plant if the shape is not appropriate
According to experience, domed or spherical
shape is the best shape which can bear
maximum load hence proved long life

Shapes and Load

Bearing Capacities

Load bearing capacity of different shapes

Bottom Slab
Bottom slab has to bear the full load of digester shell and
digester materials
It should be hard rather than soft because a rigid shell
distributes the weight better than a soft slab
Again spherical shape is recommended for base slab but
conical is also recommended because of easier
Steel ring enforcement on the outer edge of the bottom
slab is also recommended but not necessary, depends on

Bottom Slab

Designs of bottom slabs

Constructing Spherical
Its radius should be the same from the first layer
of bricks
The cemented material (mortar) should be of fine
Gaps should be filled carefully so that there would
be no chance of leakage
This shell should be water tight

Constructing Spherical

Other Considerations
for Spherical Shell

The ratio of the digester volume and gasholder

volume should be 6:1
In case of a floating drum plant, the roof of the
gas drum should be slightly sloping
Drum guidance system should be well built
otherwise it can be jammed or broken up

Other Considerations
for Spherical Shell

Height of compensating and composting tanks

does matter in a fixed cover digester
The height of the base of compensating tank
and composting tank should not be more or less
than the level of slurry in the digester
if its too low then there are chances to get
exposed to the oxygen

Important Calculations
Calculation of digester loading

Digester volume (VD) = 4800 liters (4.8 m)

Retention time (RT) = 80 days
Daily amount of fermentation slurry (Sd) = 60 kg
Proportion of organic matter = 5 %
R = 5x60/100 x 4.8 = 0.625 kg/m3/day

Important Calculations
Digester Volume
The digester volume VD (liters) = Sd
(liters/day) x RT (days)
30 liters dung + 30 liters water = 60 liters
fermentation slurry
Daily supply (Sd) = 60 liters
Retention time (RT) = 80 days
Digester volume (VD) = 60 liters/day x 80 days
= 4800 1iters (4.8 m)

Important Calculations
Retention time calculation

RT (days) = VD (liters) / Sd (liters/day)

Digester volume (VD) = 4800 liters
Daily supply (Sd) = 60 liters/day
Retention time (RT) = 4800 liters / 60
liters/day = 80 days

Important Calculations
Daily amount of feed calculation

Sd (liters/day) = VD (liters) / RT (days)

Digester volume (VD) = 4800 liters
Retention time (RT) = 80 days
Daily fermentation slurry requirement (Sd) =
4800 l / 80 days = 60 liters/day

Full-Scale Biogas Plants

Some extra components which small-scale plants
dont have
Engine driven stirrer
Heating system
Some pumps to put the material in and out the digester
Valve, Pipes etc.

Types of Full-Scale Plant

Mainly two types of digesters
Horizontal Digesters
Upright Standard Digesters

Sizes vary in great range

Can be of 50 m3 or 100 m3 or in lager plants
it can be of 400 m3 to 5000 m3 in size

Horizontal Biogas Plants

Smaller in size, made of steel
Standard volume is between 50 m 3 and 150 m3
Hydraulic retention time usually is 40 to 50 days depending
on the input material
The material in these types of plants first heated by the
heater installed inside the digester
After desired heat this material then mixed with mixing arms

Horizontal Biogas Plants

Different parts of horizontal digester

Upright Standard Plants

Can be made of either concrete or steel
Steel plants are usually made of glass coated prefabricated
sheets to avoid corrosion
Very big in size
Usually range between 1500 m 3 to 5000 m3
Height varies between 15 to 20 meters
Diameter varies between 10 to 18 meters

Upright Standard Plants

Input material either can be preheated before entering
the digester
Or hot water pipelines are installed inside the digester
to provide required heat
Hydraulic retention time is usually 20 days
Engine driven mixer is installed on the roof

Upright Standard Plants

Upright standard plant where input material is heated before hand

Upright Standard Plants

Upright standard plant

Small scale or on-farm biogas plants are more
civil engineering oriented
These require less money and can provide
relatively more benefit in terms of energy
Some methods, like fixed dome plant, can last
longer life without major maintenance hence
cheapest way to get energy

Construction of full scale plants on the other hand
is more mechanical engineering oriented
It involves some moving parts and containers
which require proper mechanical engineering
Construction of small scale biogas plants is well
described in literature, on the other hand full scale
plants construction is not well described, though
structure and typed are given

Thank You