Biogas Plant Types and Design
Digester types in industrialized countries
To give an overview, we have chosen three fictitious designs as they could be found in, for example, Europe. The designs are selected in a way that all the typical elements of modern biogas technology appear at least once. All designs are above-ground, which is common in Europe. Underground structures, however, do exist.
Mixing pit varies in size and shape according to the nature of substrate. It is equipped with propellers for mixing and/or chopping the substrate and often with a pump to transport the substrate into the digester. At times, the substrate is also pre-heated in the mixing pit in order to avoid a temperature shock inside the digester.
Fermenter or digester is insulated and made of concrete or steel. To optimize the flow of substrate, large digesters have a longish channel form. Large digesters are almost always agitated by slow rotating paddles or rotors or by injected biogas. Co-fermenters have two or more separated fermenters. The gas can be collected inside the digester, then usually with a flexible cover. The digester can also be filled completely and the gas stored in a separate gas-holder.
Gas-holder is usually of flexible material, therefore to be protected against weather. It can be placed either directly above the substrate, then it acts like a balloon plant, or in a separate ’gas-bag’.
slurry store for storage of slurry during winter. The store can be open (like conventional open liquid manure storage) or closed and connected to the gas-holder to capture remaining gas production. Normally, the store is not heated and only agitated before the slurry is spread on the field.
Gas use element is in Europe in 95% of the cases a thermo-power unit which produces electricity for the farm, the grid and heat for the house, greenhouses and other uses. The thermo-power unit has the advantage, that the required energy can be produced in any mixture of gas and fossil energy. It can, therefore, react to periods of low gas production and high energy requirements or vice versa.
Selection of appropriate design
In developing countries, the design selection is determined largely be the prevailing design in the region, which, in turn takes the climatic, economic and substrate specific conditions into consideration. Large plants are designed on a case-to-case basis.
Typical design criteria are:
Space: determines mainly the decision if the fermenter is above-ground or underground, if it is to be constructed as an upright cylinder or as a horizontal plant.
Existing structures may be used like a liquid manure tank, an empty hall or a steel container. To reduce costs, the planner may need to adjust the design to theses existing structures.
Minimizing costs can be an important design parameter, especially when the monetary benefits are expected to be low. In this case a flexible cover of the digester is usually the cheapest solution. Minimizing costs is often opposed to maximizing gas yield.
Available substrate determines not only the size and shape of mixing pit but the digester volume (retention time!), the heating and agitation devices. Agitation through gas injection is
only feasible with homogenous substrate and a dry matter content below 5%. Mechanical agitation becomes problematic above 10% dry matter.
A balloon plant consists of a heat-sealed plastic or rubber bag (balloon), combining digester and gas-holder. The gas is stored in the upper part of the balloon. The inlet and outlet are attached directly to the skin of the balloon. Gas pressure can be increased by placing weights on the balloon. If the gas pressure exceeds a limit that the balloon can withstand, it may damage the skin. Therefore, safety valves are required.
If higher gas pressures are needed, a gas pump is required. Since the material has to be weather- and UV resistant, specially stabilized, reinforced plastic or synthetic caoutchouc is given preference. Other materials which have been used successfully include RMP (red mud plastic), Trevira and butyl. The useful life-span does usually not exceed 2-5 years.
Advantages: Standardized prefabrication at low cost; shallow installation suitable for use in areas with a high groundwater table; high digester temperatures in warm climates; uncomplicated cleaning, emptying and maintenance; difficult substrates like water hyacinths can be used.
Disadvantages: Low gas pressure may require gas pumps; scum cannot be removed during operation; the plastic balloon has a relatively short useful life-span and is susceptible to mechanical damage and usually not available locally. In addition, local craftsmen are rarely in a position to repair a damaged balloon.
Balloon biogas plants are recommended, if local repair is or can be made possible and the cost advantage is substantial.
Horizontal biogas plants are usually chosen when shallow installation is called for (groundwater, rock). They are made of masonry or concrete.
Advantages: Shallow construction despite large slurry space.
Disadvantages: Problems with gas-space leakage, difficult elimination of scum.
Masonry digesters are not necessary in stable soil (e.g. laterite). It is sufficient to line the pit with a thin layer of cement (wire-mesh fixed to the pit wall and plastered) in order to prevent seepage. The edge of the pit is reinforced with a ring of masonry that also serves as anchorage for the gas-holder. The gas-holder can be made of metal or plastic sheeting. If plastic sheeting is used, it must be attached to a quadratic wooden frame that extends down into the slurry and is anchored in place to counter its buoyancy. The requisite gas pressure is achieved by placing weights on the gas-holder. An overflow point in the peripheral wall serves as the slurry outlet.
Advantages: Low cost of installation (as little as 20% of a floating-drum plant); high potential for self help approaches.
Disadvantages: Short useful life; serviceable only in suitable, impermeable types of soil.
Earth-pit plants can only be recommended for installation in impermeable soil located above the groundwater table. Their construction is particularly inexpensive in connection with plastic sheet gas-holders.
The ferro-cement type of construction can be applied either as a self-supporting shell or an earth-pit lining. The vessel is usually cylindrical. Very small plants (Volume under 6 m3) can be prefabricated. As in the case of a fixed-dome plant, the ferrocement gasholder requires special sealing measures (proven reliability with cemented-on aluminium foil).
Advantages: Low cost of construction, especially in comparison with potentially high cost of masonry for alternative plants; mass production possible; low material input.
Disadvantages: Substantial consumption of essentially good-quality cement; workmanship must meet high quality standards; uses substantial amounts of expensive wire mesh; construction technique not yet adequately time-tested; special sealing measures for the gas-holder are necessary.
Ferro-cement biogas plants are only recommended in cases where special ferro-cement know-how is available.
Parts of Biogas Plants
- Influent collecting tank
- Inlet and outlet
- Gas pipe, valves and accessories
- Stirring facilities
- Heating systems
- Weak Ring
Influent collecting tank
Size and homogenization
Fresh substrate is usually gathered in an influent collecting tank prior to being fed into the digester. Depending on the type of system, the tank should hold one to two days’ substrate. An influent collecting tank can also be used to homogenize the various substrates and to set up the required consistency, e.g. by adding water to dilute the mixture of vegetable solids (straw, grass, etc.), or by adding more solids in order to increase the bio-mass.
The fibrous material is raked off the surface, if necessary, and any stones or sand settling at the bottom are cleaned out after the slurry is admitted to the digester. The desired degree of homogenization and solids content can be achieved with the aid of an agitator, pump or chopper. A rock or wooden plug can be used to close off the inlet pipe during the mixing process.
A sunny location can help to warm the contents before they are fed into the digester in order to avoid thermal shock due to the cold mixing water. In the case of a biogas plant that is directly connected to the stable, it is advisable to install the mixing pit deep enough to allow installation of a floating gutter leading directly into the pit. Care must also be taken to ensure that the low position of the mixing pit does not result in premature digestion. For reasons of hygiene, toilets should have a direct connection to the inlet pipe.
Inlet and outlet
Size and material
The inlet (feed) and outlet (discharge) pipes lead straight into the digester at a steep angle. For liquid substrate, the pipe diameter should be 10-15 cm, while fibrous substrate requires a diameter of 20-30 cm. The inlet and the outlet pipe mostly consist of plastic or concrete.
Position of inlet and outlet
Both the inlet and the outlet pipe must be freely accessible and straight, so that a rod can be pushed through to eliminate obstructions and agitate the digester contents. The pipes should penetrate the digester wall at a point below the lowest slurry level (i.e. not through the gas storage). The points of penetration should be sealed and reinforced with mortar.
The inlet pipe ends higher in the digester than the outlet pipe in order to promote more uniform flow of the substrate. In a fixed-dome plant, the inlet pipe defines the bottom line of the gas-holder, acting like a security valve to release over-pressure. In a floating-drum plant, the end of the outlet pipe determines the digester’s (constant) slurry level.
Inlet and outlet pipe must be placed in connection with brick-laying. It is not advisable to break holes into the spherical shell afterwards, this would weaken the masonry structure.
No matter which design is chosen, the digester (fermentation tank) must meet the following requirements:
- Water/gastightness - watertightness in order to prevent seepage and the resultant
threat to soil and groundwater quality; gastightness in order to ensure proper
containment of the entire biogas yield and to prevent air entering into the digester
(which could result in the formation of an explosive mixture).
- Insulation - if and to which extent depends on the required process temperature, the
local climate and the financial means; heat loss should be minimized if outside
temperatures are low, warming up of the digester should be facilitated when outside
temperatures are high.
- Minimum surface area - keeps cost of construction to a minimum and reduces heat
losses through the vessel walls. A spherical structure has the best ratio of volume
and surface area. For practical construction, a hemispherical construction with a
conical floor is close to the optimum.
- Structural stability - sufficient to withstand all static and dynamic loads, durable and
resistant to corrosion.
Internal and external forces
Two relevant forces act on the digester. The external active earth pressure causes compressive forces within the masonry. The internal hydrostatic and gas pressures causes tensile stress in the masonry. Thus, the external pressure applied by the surrounding earth must be greater at all points than the internal forces. Round and spherical shapes are able to accept the highest forces and distribute them uniformly. Edges and corners lead to peak tensile stresses which can result in cracking.
Shapes of digesters
From the standpoint of fluid dynamics and structural strength, an egg-shaped vessel is about the best possible solution. This type of construction, however, is comparatively expensive, so that its use is usually restricted to large-scale sewage treatment plants. The Chinese fixed-dome designs are of similar shape, but less expensive. The hemispherical CAMARTEC design is optimized in structural strength, but does not make optimal use of the excavation required.
Simplified versions of such digester designs include cylinders with conical covers and bottoms. They are much easier to build and are sometimes available on the market as prefabricated units. Their disadvantage lies in their less favorable surface-volume ratio. The cylinder should have a height equal to its diameter. Prone cylinders have become quite popular on farms, since they are frequently the more favorable solution for small-scale bio-methanation. Cuboid digesters are often employed in batch-fed systems used primarily for fermenting solid material, so that fluid dynamics are of little interest.
Building materials of digester
Digesters can be made from any of the following materials:
Steel vessels are inherently gas-tight, have good tensile strength, and are relatively easy to construct (by welding). In many cases, a discarded steel vessel of appropriate shape and size can be salvaged for use as a biogas digester. Susceptibility to corrosion both outside (atmospheric humidity) and inside (aggressive media) can be a severe problem. As a rule, some type of anticorrosive coating must be applied and checked at regular intervals. Steel vessels are only cost-effective, if second-hand vessels (e.g. train or truck tankers) can be used.
Concrete vessels have gained widespread acceptance in recent years. The requisite gas-tightness necessitates careful construction and the use of gas-tight coatings, linings and/or seal strips in order to prevent gas leakage. Most common are stress cracks at the joints of the top and the sides. The prime advantage of concrete vessels are their practically unlimited useful life and their relatively inexpensive construction. This is especially true for large digesters in industrialized countries.
Masonry is the most frequent construction method for small scale digesters. Only well-burnt clay bricks, high quality, pre-cast concrete blocks or stone blocks should be used in the construction of digesters. Cement-plastered/rendered masonry is a suitable - and inexpensive - approach for building an underground biogas digester, whereby a dome-like shape is recommended. For domes larger than 20 m3 digester volume, steel reinforcement is advisable. Masons who are to build masonry digesters have to undergo specific training and, initially, require close supervision.
Plastics have been in widespread use in the field of biogas engineering for a long time. Basic differentiation is made between flexible materials (sheeting) and rigid materials (PE, GRP, etc.). Diverse types of plastic sheeting can be used for constructing the entire digesting chamber (balloon gas holders) or as a vessel cover in the form of a gas-tight "bonnet".
Sheeting made of caoutchouc (india rubber), PVC, and PE of various thickness and description have been tried out in numerous systems. The durability of plastic materials exposed to aggressive slurry, mechanical stress and UV radiation, as well as their gas permeability, vary from material to material and on the production processes employed in their manufacture.
Glass-fibre reinforced plastic (GRP) digesters have proven quite suitable, as long as the in-service static stresses are accounted for in the manufacturing process. GRP vessels display good gas-tightness and corrosion resistance. They are easy to repair and have a long useful life span. The use of sandwich material (GRP - foam insulation -GRP) minimizes the on-site insulating work and reduces the cost of transportation and erection.
A further suitable material for use in the construction of biogas systems is wood. It is often used for building liquid-manure hoppers and spreaders. Wooden digesters require a vapor-proof membrane to protect the insulation. Closed vessels of any appreciable size are very hard to render gas-tight without the aid of plastic sheeting. Consequently, such digesters are very rare.
Basically, there are different designs of construction for gasholders used in simple biogas plants:
- floating-drum gasholders
- fixed-domes gasholders
- plastic gasholders
- separate gasholders
Most floating-drum gas-holders are made of 2-4 mm thick sheet steel, with the sides made of thicker material than the top in order to compensate for the higher degree of corrosive attack. Structural stability is provided by L-bar bracing that also serves to break up surface scum when the drum is rotated. A guide frame stabilizes the gas drum and prevents it from tilting and rubbing against the masonry. The two equally suitable and most frequently used types are:
- an internal rod & pipe guide with a fixed (concrete-embedded) cross pole (an advantageous configuration in connection with an internal gas outlet);
- external guide frame supported on three wooden or steel legs.
For either design, substantial force can be necessary to rotate the drum, especially if it is stuck in a heavy layer of floating scum. Any gas-holder with a volume exceeding 5 m3 should be equipped with a double guide (internal and external).
All grades of steel normally used for gas-holders are susceptible to moisture-induced rusting both in- and outside. Consequently, a long service life requires proper surface protection, including:
- thorough de-rusting and de-soiling
- primer coat of minimum 2 layers
- 2 or 3 cover coats of plastic or bituminous paint.
The cover coats should be reapplied annually. A well-kept metal gas-holder can be expected to last between 3 and 5 years in humid, salty air or 8-12 years in a dry climate.
Materials regarded as suitable alternatives to standard grades of steel are galvanized sheet metal, plastics (glass-fibre reinforced plastic (GRP), plastic sheeting) and ferro-cement with a gas-tight lining. The gas-holders of water-jacket plants have a longer average service life, particularly when a film of used oil is poured on the water seal to provide impregnation.
A fixed-dome gas-holder can be either the upper part of a hemispherical digester (CAMARTEC design) or a conical top of a cylindrical digester (e.g. Chinese fixed-dome plant). In a fixed-dome plant the gas collecting in the upper part of the dome displaces a corresponding volume of digested slurry. The following aspects must be considered with regard to design and operation:
- An overflow into and out of the compensation tank must be provided to avoid over-filling of the plant.
- The gas outlet must be located about 10 cm higher than the overflow level to avoid plugging up of the gas pipe.
- A gas pressure of 1 m WC or more can develop inside the gas space. Consequently, the plant must be covered sufficiently with soil to provide an adequate counter-
- Special care must be taken to properly close the man hole, which may require to weigh down the lid with 100 kg or more. The safest method is to secure the lid with clamps.
The following structural measures are recommended to avoid cracks in the gas-holder:
- The foot of the dome (gas-holder) should be stabilized by letting the foundation slab project out enough to allow for an outer ring of mortar.
- A rated break/pivot ring should be provided at a point located between 1/2 and 2/3 of the minimum slurry level. This in order to limit the occurrence or propagation of cracks in the vicinity of the dome foot and to displace forces through its stiffening/articulating effect such that tensile forces are reduced around the gas space. Alternatively, the lowest point of the gas-holder should be reinforced by a steel ring or the whole gas-holder be reinforced with chicken mesh wire.
Normally, masonry, mortar and concrete are not gas-tight, with or without mortar additives. Gas-tightness can only be achieved through good, careful workmanship and special coatings. The main precondition is that masonry and plaster are strong and free of cracks. Cracked and sandy rendering must be removed. In most cases, a plant with cracked masonry must be dismantled, because not even the best seal coating can render cracks permanently gas-tight.
Some tried and proven seal coats and plasters:
- multi-layer bitumen, applied cold (hot application poses the danger of injury by burns and smoke-poisoning; solvents cause dangerous/explosive vapors). Two to four thick coats required;
- bitumen with aluminum foil, thin sheets of overlapping aluminum foil applied to the still-sticky bitumen, followed by the next coat of bitumen;
- plastics, e.g. epoxy resin or acrylic paint; very good but expensive;
- paraffin, diluted with 2-5% kerosene, heated up to 100°C and applied to the preheated masonry, thus providing an effective (deep) seal. Use kerosene/gas torch to heat masonry.
- multi-layer cement plaster with water-proof elements
In any case, a pressure test must be carried out before the plant is put in service.
Gas-holders made of plastic sheeting serve as integrated gas-holders, as separate balloon/bag-type gas-holders and as integrated gas-transport/storage elements. For plastic (sheet) gas-holders, the structural details are of less immediate interest than the question of which materials can be used.
Differentiation is made between:
- low-pressure, wet and dry gas-holders (10-50 mbar). Basically, these gas-holders are identical to integrated and/or plastic (sheet) gas-holders. Separate gas-holders cost more and are only worthwhile in case of substantial distances (at least 50-100 m) or to allow repair of a leaky fixed-dome plant. This type of separate gas-holder is also used to buffer extreme differences between gas-production and gas-use patterns.
- medium or high-pressure gas-holders (8-10 bar / 200 bar)
Neither system can be considered for use in small-scale biogas plants. Even for large-scale plants, they cannot be recommended under the conditions in most developing countries. High-pressure gas storage in steel cylinders (as fuel for vehicles) is presently under discussion. While that approach is possible in theory, it would be complicated and, except in special cases, prohibitively expensive. It would also require the establishment of stringent safety regulations.
Gas pipe, valves and accessories
At least 60% of all non-functional biogas units are attributable to defect gas piping. Utmost care has to be taken, therefore, for proper installation. For the sake of standardization, it is advisable to select a single size for all pipes, valves and accessories.
The requirements for biogas piping, valves and accessories are essentially the same as for other gas installations. However, biogas is 100% saturated with water vapor and contains hydrogen-sulfide. Consequently, no piping, valves or accessories that contain any amounts of ferrous metals may be used for biogas piping, because they would be destroyed by corrosion within a short time.
The gas lines may consist of standard galvanized steel pipes. Also suitable (and inexpensive) is plastic tubing made of rigid PVC or rigid PE. Flexible gas pipes laid in the open must be UV-resistant.
Galvanized steel water supply pipes are used most frequently, because the entire piping system (gas pipe, valves and accessories) can be made of universally applicable English/U.S. Customary system components, i.e. with all dimensions in inches. Pipes with nominal dimensions of 1/2" or 3/4" are adequate for small-to-midsize plants of simple design and pipe lengths of less than 30 m. For larger plants, longer gas pipes or low system pressure, a detailed pressure-loss (pipe-sizing) calculation must be performed.
When installing a gas pipe, special attention must be paid to:
- gas-tight, friction-type joints
- line drainage, i.e. with a water trap at the lowest point of the sloping pipe in order to empty water accumulation
- protection against mechanical impact
Optimum stirring substantially reduces the retention time. If agitation is excessive, the bacteria have "no time to eat". The ideal is gentle but intensive stirring about every four hours. Of similar importance is the breaking up of a scum layer which has lost contact with the main volume of substrate and is, therefore, not further digested. This top layer can form an impermeable barrier for biogas to move up from the digester to the gas holder.
As a rule of thumb it can be stated that stirring facilities are more important in larger plants than in small scale farm plants.
Types of stirring facilities
a. The impeller stirrer has given good results especially in sewage treatment plants.
b. The horizontal shaft stirs the fermentation channel without mixing up the phases. Both schemes originate from large-scale plant practice.
c. For simple household plants, poking with a stick is the simplest and safest stirring method.
Optional Parts of Biogas Plants
Normally, because of the rather high involved costs, small-scale biogas plants are built without heating systems. But even for small scale plants, it is of advantage for the bio-methanation process to warm up the influent substrate to its proper process temperature before it is fed into the digester. If possible, cold zones in the digester should be avoided. In the following, a number of different ways to get the required amount of thermal energy into the substrate are described. In principle, one can differentiate between:
- direct heating in the form of steam or hot water, and
- indirect heating via heat exchanger, whereby the heating medium, usually hot water, imparts heat while not mixing with the substrate.
Direct heating with steam has the serious disadvantage of requiring an elaborate steam-generating system (including desalination and ion exchange as water pretreatment) and can also cause local overheating. The high cost is only justifiable for large-scale sewage treatment facilities.
The injection of hot water raises the water content of the slurry and should only be practiced if such dilution is necessary.
Indirect heating is accomplished with heat exchangers located either inside or outside of the digester, depending on the shape of the vessel, the type of substrate used, and the nature of the operating mode.
Floor heating systems have not served well in the past, because the accumulation of sediment gradually hampers the transfer of heat.
In-vessel heat exchangers are a good solution from the standpoint of heat transfer as long as they are able to withstand the mechanical stress caused by the mixer, circulating pump, etc. The larger the heat-exchange surface, the more uniformly heat distribution can be effected which is better for the biological process.
On-vessel heat exchangers with the heat conductors located in or on the vessel walls are inferior to in-vessel-exchangers as far as heat-transfer efficiency is concerned, since too much heat is lost to the surroundings. On the other hand, practically the entire wall area of the vessel can be used as a heat-transfer surface, and there are no obstructions in the vessel to impede the flow of slurry.
Ex-vessel heat exchangers offer the advantage of easy access for cleaning and maintenance.
While in Northern countries, often a substantial amount of the produced biogas is consumed to provide process energy, in countries with higher temperatures and longer sunshine hours, solar-heated water can be a cost-effective solution for heating. Exposing the site of the biogas plant to sunshine, e.g. by avoiding tree shade, is the simplest method of heating.
Pumps become necessary parts of a biogas unit, when the amounts of substrate require fast movement and when gravity cannot be used for reasons of topography or substrate characteristics. Pumps transport the substrate from the point of delivery through all the stages of fermentation. Therefore, several pumps and types of pumps may be needed. Pumps are usually found in large scale biogas units.
Types of pump
There are two predominant types of pump for fresh substrate: centrifugal pumps and positive-displacement pumps (reciprocating pumps). Centrifugal pumps operate on the principle of a rapidly rotating impeller located in the liquid flow. They provide high delivery rates and are very robust, i.e. the internals are exposed to little mechanical stress. They do, however, require a free-flowing intake arrangement, because they are not self-priming (regenerative).
Data of pumps
Practically all centrifugal pump characteristics are geared to water. They show the delivery rates for various heads, the achievable efficiency levels, and the power requirement for the pump motor. Consequently, such data cannot be directly applied to biogas systems, since the overall performance and efficiency level of a pump for re-circulating slurry may suffer a serious drop-off as compared to its standard "water" rating (roughly 5-10%).
Sometimes, namely when the substrate is excessively viscous, a centrifugal pump will no longer do the job, because the condition of the substrate surpasses the pump’s physical delivery capacity. In such cases, one must turn to a so-called positive-displacement or reciprocating type of pump in the form of a piston pump, gear pump or eccentric spiral pump, all of which operate on the principle of displacing action to provide positive delivery via one or more enclosed chambers.
Positive displacement pumps
Positive displacement pumps offer multiple advantages. Even for highly viscous substrate, they provide high delivery and high efficiency at a relatively low rate of power consumption. Their characteristics - once again for water - demonstrate how little the delivery rate depends on the delivery head. Consequently, most of the characteristics show the delivery rate as a function of pump speed.
The main disadvantage as compared to a centrifugal pump is the greater amount of wear and tear on the internal occasioned by the necessity of providing an effective seal between each two adjacent chambers.
Pump delivery lines
Pump delivery lines can be made of steel, PVC (rigid) or PE (rigid or flexible), as well as appropriate flexible pressure tubing made of reinforced plastic or rubber. Solid substrate, e.g. dung, can also be handled via conveyor belt, worm conveyor or sliding-bar system, though none of these could be used for liquid manure. When liquid manure is conducted through an open gutter, small weirs or barrages should be installed at intervals of 20-30 m as a means of breaking up the scum layer.
Each such barrier should cause the scum to fall at least 20-30 cm on the downstream side. All changes of direction should be executed at right angles (90°). Depending on the overall length, the cross gutter should be laid some 30-50 cm deeper than the main gutter.
Transitions between a rectangular channel and a round pipe must be gradual. An inclination of about 14% yields optimum flow conditions. The channel bottom must be laid level, since any slope in the direction of flow would only cause the liquid manure to run off prematurely. All wall surfaces should be as smooth as possible.
Position of the weak ring
The weak/strong ring improves the gas-tightness of fixed-dome plants. It was first introduced in Tanzania and showed promising results. The weak ring separates the lower part of the hemispherical digester, (filled with digesting substrate), from the upper part (where the gas is stored).
Vertical cracks, moving upwards from the bottom of the digester, are diverted in this ring of lean mortar into horizontal cracks. These cracks remain in the slurry area where they are of no harm to the gas-tightness. The strong ring is a reinforcement of the bottom of the gas-holder, it could also be seen as a foundation of the gas-holder. It is an additional device to prevent cracks from entering the gas-holder. Weak and strong ring have been successfully combined in the CAMARTEC design.
Materials and construction
The weak ring consists of mortar of a mixture of sand, lime and cement (15:3:1). The top of the weak ring restores the horizontal level. It is interrupted only by the inlet pipe passing through. The strong ring rests on the weak ring and is the first layer of the upper part of the hemispherical shell. It consists of a row of header bricks with a concrete package at the outside. In case of soft or uncertain ground soil one may place a ring reinforcement bar in the concrete of the strong ring. The brick of the strong ring should be about three times wider than the brickwork of the upper wall. A detailed description of the weak/strong ring construction can be found in Sasse, Kellner, Kimaro.
Ringkamp, M.; Tentscher, W.; Schiller, H.: Preliminary results on: statical optimization of family-sized fixed-dome digesters. Tilche, A.; Rozzi, A. (ed.): Poster Papers. Fifth International Symposium on Anaerobic Digestion, Bologna 1988, pp. 321-324
Sasse, L.; Kellner, Ch.; Kimaro, A.: Improved Biogas Unit for Developing Countries.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Vieweg & Sohn Verlagsgesellschaft Braunschweig, 1991
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