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Construction of the digester neck with steel reinforcement

Choosing a right biogas digester is a very important while constructing a biogas plant. 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, therefore, 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.

Fixed Dome Biogas Plants

A fixed-dome plant comprises of a closed, dome-shaped digester with an immovable, rigid gas-holder and a displacement pit, also named 'compensation tank'. The gas is stored in the upper part of the digester. When gas production commences, the slurry is displaced into the compensating tank. Gas pressure increases with the volume of gas stored, i.e. with the height difference between the two slurry levels. If there is little gas in the gas-holder, the gas pressure is low.

Floating Drum Plants

Floating-drum plants consist of an underground digester and a moving gas-holder. The gas-holder floats either directly on the fermentation slurry or in a water jacket of its own. The gas is collected in the gas drum, which rises or moves down, according to the amount of gas stored.

Low-Cost Polyethylene Tube Digester

The Low-Cost Polyethylene Tube Digester model consist of tubular polyethylene film (two coats of 300 microns) bent at each end around a 6 inch PVC drainpipe and is wound with rubber strap of recycled tire-tubes.

Balloon Plants

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.
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Horizontal Plants

Disadvantages: Problems with gas-space leakage, difficult elimination of scum.

Earth-pit Plants

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.


  • Low cost of installation (as little as 20% of a floating-drum plant);
  • high potential for self help approaches.


  • 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.

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Ferro-cement Plants

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).

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