M-11: Optimizing performance of existing brewery anaerobic digester systems for organic content removal, biogas production, and electricity generation

M. H. FARHAN (1), R. Seaman (2); (1) EMG International, LLC, Aston, PA, U.S.A.; (2) Yuengling Beer Company, Pottsville, PA, U.S.A.

Sustainability I
Friday, June 6 - 2:00 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
Level 4, Grand Ballroom

Many breweries have existing anaerobic digester systems for wastewater treatment and reduction of sewer surcharge fees. Some existing brewery digester systems are more than 15 years old and operate under inefficient or stressful conditions. Over time, such conditions reduce the efficacy of the anaerobic digestion process and promote an unbalanced bacterial population. This paper presents a systematic approach to evaluating digester system performance, identifying and correcting factors that result in inefficient digester operation, and designing biogas utilization and electricity generation systems. This paper addresses the following areas: a description of the anaerobic digestion process; scientifically established steps for anaerobic digestion; known degradation pathways for breaking down complex organic compounds produced by the brewing process into a usable biogas stream; required environmental factors for optimizing the anaerobic digestion process; common inhibitory compounds used in the brewing process that may adversely affect digester system performance; sampling and analytical methods to evaluate digester system performance; typical indicators of a stressed or unbalanced digestion process; recommended corrective actions to improve digester system performance for organic content removal and biogas production; and general guidelines for biogas stream utilization. This presentation relies on project work completed at the Yuengling Beer Company in Pottsville, PA, which will be used as a case study. The project work included optimizing performance of an existing up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) digester system and generating electricity from the produced biogas stream.

Manaf H. Farhan is the president and CEO of EMG International based in Media, PA. He holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Columbia University, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in systems engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a licensed professional engineer. His doctoral research focused on design and optimization of various anaerobic digester processes to maximize process efficiency and biogas production. He has authored several peer-reviewed articles on anaerobic digestion and has served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He has more than 20 years of experience providing a wide range of environmental engineering design and consulting services to private industry and government clients. His professional experience includes design and construction of digester systems for wastewater treatment and biogas and electricity generation for food and beverage facilities and for dairy farms; technical evaluation, process modifications, and operational support for various full-scale anaerobic digester installations; development and testing of bench- and pilot-scale wastewater treatment systems; pollution prevention and wastewater minimization audits; and biogas collection, clean-up, and utilization systems.

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