New technology streamlines production of biogas and bioethanol

The PhD student Alex Osagie Osadolor has developed new systems for regulating the temperature in the reactor, flow of mass in and out of the reactor, and a system for mixing the content.

Textile reactors are today used primarily to convert organic waste into biogas, and they are used primarily in countries with warmer climate, as heat is a prerequisite for the microorganisms to survive and thrive.

Focus on five areas

The starting point for the research project was to introduce properties in the textile reactors in order to be able to use them in a cost-effective way, while ensuring safe and efficient production of fermented products, in this case biogas and bioethanol. He has focused on five areas: temperature regulation in and around the reactor, bypassing constraints that may arise in connection with the fermentation process when feeding and draining the material in the reactor, developing a system for mixing the material and microorganisms inside the reactor, investigating the flow and structure of the matter in the reactor, and testing the mechanics of the reactor itself for medium to large-scale use.

The textile reactors used in industry today depend on inherent temperature conditions in the environment where the reactor is placed. Most often they are placed outdoors. Cold climate, for example, is not optimal, as the microorganisms, that thrive and work best in a warm space, can freeze and die. With the systems and calculations made by Alex Osagie Osadolor, the environment is significantly improved in the textile reactor. This makes the microorganisms thrive, they remain in the reactor, and the fermentation process will improve.

"I have investigated how we can optimize the textile reactor and the environment for the microorganisms that work inside the reactor. I have calculated the pressure and strength of the material that the reactor is made of. I have also developed a system for mixing the substrate, the material fed into the reactor, and the microorganisms that work in the reactor, without the microorganisms being flushed together with the product you produce, in this case biogas or bioethanol. The principle of these systems can also be applied on a large scale”, explains Alex Osagie Osadolor.

In total, the project shows that it is possible to reduce the cost of the fermentation process by over 20 percent.

Read more

The doctoral project was carried out at the Swedish Center for Resource Recovery at the University of Borås.

Alex Osagie Osadolor publicly defended his doctoral thesis 6 April at the University of Borås.

Title of doctoral thesis: Design and development of a novel textile based bioreactor: Ethanol and biogas production as case studies (link to pdf). 

Principal supervisor: Professor Mohammad Taherzadeh

Read more about the research at the Swedish Centre for Resource Recovery.

Text: Solveig Klug
Photo: Suss Wilén