Development of a new genetic algorithm to solve the feedstock scheduling problem in an anaerobic digester

Ana Catalina Cram, University of Texas at El Paso


As worldwide environmental awareness grow, alternative sources of energy have become important to mitigate climate change. Biogas in particular reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and has the potential of providing 25% of the annual demand for natural gas in the U.S. In 2011, 55,000 metric tons of methane emissions were reduced and 301 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided through the use of biogas alone. Biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion through the fermentation of organic material. It is mainly composed of methane with a rage of 50 to 80% in its concentration. Carbon dioxide covers 20 to 50% and small amounts of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and nitrogen. ^ The biogas production systems are anaerobic digestion facilities and the optimal operation of an anaerobic digester requires the scheduling of all batches from multiple feedstocks during a specific time horizon. The availability times, biomass quantities, biogas production rates and storage decay rates must all be taken into account for maximal biogas production to be achieved during the planning horizon. Little work has been done to optimize the scheduling of different types of feedstock in anaerobic digestion facilities to maximize the total biogas produced by these systems. Therefore, in the present thesis, a new genetic algorithm is developed with the main objective of obtaining the optimal sequence in which different feedstocks will be processed and the optimal time to allocate to each feedstock in the digester with the main objective of maximizing the production of biogas considering different types of feedstocks, arrival times and decay rates. Moreover, all batches need to be processed in the digester in a specified time with the restriction that only one batch can be processed at a time. The developed algorithm is applied to 3 different examples and a comparison with results obtained in previous studies is presented. ^

Subject Area

Engineering, Industrial|Engineering, Mechanical|Energy

Recommended Citation

Cram, Ana Catalina, "Development of a new genetic algorithm to solve the feedstock scheduling problem in an anaerobic digester" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1551220.