On-line titration method for monitoring buffer capacity and total volatile fatty acid levels in anaerobic digesters

Authors

  • G. E. Powell,

    1. Agricultural and Food Research Council, Institute of Food Research, Norwich Laboratory, Colney Lane, Norwich NR4 7UA, United Kingdom
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  • D. B. Archer

    Corresponding author
    1. Agricultural and Food Research Council, Institute of Food Research, Norwich Laboratory, Colney Lane, Norwich NR4 7UA, United Kingdom
    • Agricultural and Food Research Council, Institute of Food Research, Norwich Laboratory, Colney Lane, Norwich NR4 7UA, United Kingdom
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Abstract

The construction and use of an automatic on-line titration unit for routine or event- initiated monitoring of alkalinity, buffer capacity, and volatile fatty acid (VFA) levels is presented. Under computer control a sample of digester liquor is pumped into the titration vessel and weighed. A sequence of titration, sparging, and back-titration operations are then initiated during which the pH and weight are recorded continuously and a titration curve constructed. From the curve, estimates of the alkalinity, buffer capacity to any desired pH endpoint, and total VFA levels are computed. The data is stored to disk and output as hard copy together with the titration curve itself. Monitoring and control of the titration apparatus is effected by a microcomputer via two analog input lines and eight digital output lines, respectively. The system is suitable for downloading to a small, inexpensive dedicated microprocessor-based system. The apparatus is constructed from standard and widely available equipment and the titration sequence, being under software control, is fully adaptable to particular requirements. The use of this facility in the on-line monitoring, control and optimization of the anaerobic digestion process is discussed.

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