Optimising flow and mixing in a full-scale gas-mixed anaerobic digester by integrating sludge rheological data using computational fluid dynamics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Downloads (Pure)


Gas-mixing is commonly applied in anaerobic digesters, yet the resulting flow and hydraulic mixing are difficult to evaluate because of limited full-scale experimental data and uncertainties in integrating sludge rheological data. This study used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to assess the impact of treated sludge rheology on flow and mixing characterisation in a full-scale biogas-mixed digester. The CFD model, which was firstly validated using a lab-scale setup, showed that flow and mixing predictions depended on the rheological properties, especially at low shear rates. The predicted dominant shear rate was out of the effective shear-rate range of the Ostwald model, leading to flow and mixing performance overestimation. The results indicated that there are limitations in applying the Ostwald model and the conventional approaches for determining dead-zone. The Herschel-Bulkley model was more appropriate for the prevailing low shear rates and predicted large viscosity gradients in the digester, indicating two distinct compartments with different flow and mixing behaviour based on the gas-sparging height: a plug-flow compartment with dominant vertical convection above, and a dead-zone compartment with considerable segregation below. The results showed that the applied gas-sparging induced insufficient flow and mixing, but contributed to the well-functioning of the digester. To correctly assess flow and mixing, the applied rheological data should be in agreement with the type of sludge that is treated in the digester. Our results indicate that the shear rate in the digester must be increased and various options for achieving this are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number143647
Number of pages13
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • CFD
  • Flow and mixing
  • Gas-mixing
  • Optimisation
  • Sludge rheology

Cite this