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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 318054, 8 pages
Research Article

Improved Design of Anaerobic Digesters for Household Biogas Production in Indonesia: One Cow, One Digester, and One Hour of Cooking per Day

1Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
2Chemical Engineering, Gadjah Mada University, Jalan Grafika 2 Kampus UGM, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia

Received 29 August 2013; Accepted 9 December 2013; Published 13 March 2014

Academic Editors: S. Rodtong and T. J. Strabala

Copyright © 2014 Joseph G. Usack et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A government-sponsored initiative in Indonesia to design and implement low-cost anaerobic digestion systems resulted in 21 full-scale systems with the aim to satisfy the cooking fuel demands of rural households owning at least one cow. The full-scale design consisted of a 0.3 m diameter PVC pipe, which was operated as a conventional plug-flow system. The system generated enough methane to power a cooking stove for 1 h. However, eventual clogging from solids accumulation inside the bioreactor proved to be a major drawback. Here, we improved the digester configuration to remedy clogging while maintaining system performance. Controlled experiments were performed using four 9-L laboratory-scale digesters operated at a temperature of °C, a volatile solids loading rate of 2.0 g VS·L−1·day−1, and a 21-day hydraulic retention time. Two of the digesters were replicates of the original design (control digesters), while the other two digesters included internal mixing or effluent recycle (experimental digesters). The performance of each digester was compared based on methane yields, VS removal efficiencies, and steady-state solids concentrations during an operating period of 311 days. Statistical analyses revealed that internal mixing and effluent recycling resulted in reduced solids accumulation compared to the controls without diminishing methane yields or solids removal efficiencies.