Researchers from Israel and Florida awarded funding for biogas

By American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev | July 14, 2015

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and University of Florida researchers have been awarded a United States-Israel Bi-national Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) grant to improve the production of biogas that supplies farms’ energy needs.

The goal of this project is to design guidelines for improved anaerobic digesters (biogas systems) for treatment in a wide variety of biomass feedstocks. Such digester designs will eliminate operational problems and enhance the use of a wide range of nutrient-rich feedstocks, thereby increasing farm revenues.

Farm-based biogas systems (or anaerobic digesters) have traditionally treated animal manure. The biogas produced is used onsite to supply a farm’s energy needs. But, manure by its very nature is a poor feedstock for anaerobic digestion.

Attractive renewable-energy credits in some countries have spurred tremendous growth in the number of digesters that co-digest manure with other feedstocks, such as corn silage. Adding co-feedstocks enhances the volumetric biogas productivity from the digester, leading to increased farm revenues.

The researchers will simulate particle-level and flow simulations associated with this new technology for continuous, high-solids, leach-bed anaerobic digestion at UF. They will be used to describe the flow of wet and dry, fibrous, flexible particles characteristic of biomass. The model validation, which will be conducted at Ben-Gurion University, will then be employed to describe the multiphase flow behavior within the new digester technology.

Grant recipient Professor Haim Kalman of BGU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering is a world leader in solids handling and particle transport. He has served as the international scientific chair for the International Conference of Conveying and Handling of Particulate Solids for a decade, and in May chaired the international conference on this topic in Tel Aviv.

University of Florida researcher Professor Jennifer Curtis heads a group with unique experience in simulating wet or dry, flexible, elongated fibrous materials. UF’s Professor Pullammanappallil brings expertise and experimental facilities relevant to the anaerobic digestion process.