, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 387-393

Studies in biogas technology. Part IV. A novel biogas plant incorporating a solar water-heater and solar still

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Abstract

A reduction in the heat losses from the top of the gas holder of a biogas plant has been achieved by the simple device of a transparent cover. The heat losses thus prevented have been deployed to heat a water pond formed on the roof of the gas holder. This solar-heated water is mixed with the organic input for ‘ hot-charging ’ of the biogas plant.

A thermal analysis of such a solar water-heater ‘ piggy-backing ’ on the gas holder of a biogas plant has been carried out.

To test whether the advantages indicated by the thermal analysis can be realised in practice, a biogas plant of the ASTRA design was modified to incorporate a roof-top solar water-heater. The operation of such a modified plant, even under ‘ worst case ’ onditions, shows a significant improvement in the gas yield compared to the unmodified plant. Hence, the innovation reported here may lead to drastic reductions in the sizes and therefore costs of biogas plants.

By making the transparent cover assume a tent-shape, the roof-top solar heater can serve the additional function of a solar still to yield distilled water.

The biogas plant-cum-solar water-heater-cum-solar still described here is an example of a spatially integrated hybrid device which is extremely cost-effective.