Investigation of non-Newtonian flow in anaerobic digesters

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Langner, Jeremy M.
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This thesis examines how the non-Newtonian characteristics of liquid hog manure affect the flow conditions within a steady-flow anaerobic digester. There are three main parts to this thesis. In the first part of this thesis, the physical properties of liquid hog manure and their variation with temperature and solids concentration are experimentally determined. Naturally¬¬-settled manure sampled from an outdoor storage lagoon is studied, and density, viscosity, and particle size distribution are measured. Hog manure with total solids concentrations of less than 3.6% exhibits Newtonian behaviour; manure between 3.6% and 6.5% total solids is pseudoplastic, and fits the power law; manure with more than 6.5% total solids exhibits non-Newtonian and time-dependent characteristics. The second part of this thesis investigates the flow of Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids—represented by tap water and xanthan gum solution, respectively—within four lab-scale reactor geometries, using residence time distribution (RTD) experiments. The effect of reactor geometry, flow rate, and fluid viscosity are evaluated. In the third part of this thesis, flow conditions within lab-scale and pilot-scale anaerobic digester reactors are simulated using three-dimensional modeling techniques. The RTDs of lab-scale reactors as predicted by the 3D numerical models compare well to the experimental results. The 3D models are also validated using data from particle image velocimetry (PIV) experiments. Finally, the viscous properties of liquid hog manure at 3% and 8% total solids are incorporated into the models, and the results are evaluated.
anaerobic digester, non-Newtonian, residence time distribution, computational fluid dynamics, hog manure, viscosity