Potential errors in the quantitative evaluation of biogas production in anaerobic digestion processes

Mark Walker, Yue Zhang, Sonia Heaven, Charles Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

227 Citations (Scopus)


Errors that are commonly made in the quantification of biogas from anaerobic digestion experiments were investigated.

For liquid displacement gasometers where a barrier solution separates the biogas and the atmosphere, inaccuracy due to gas diffusion was examined experimentally. Acidified saturated saline solution was the most suitable barrier solution, as biogas characteristics changed least with time. Using acidified or tap water caused considerable biogas losses and should therefore be avoided where biogas is stored before measurement.

Errors associated with volume calculation from three common liquid displacement gasometer types were investigated theoretically. Corrections that must be made to obtain gas volumes at standard temperature and pressure when using this equipment are discussed. Regarding experimental errors, gasometer designs where displaced liquid is weighed to determine the volume are the most versatile since errors depend mainly upon balance sensitivity. Using liquid heights to calculate volume requires appropriate sizing of the gasometer relative to the volume of gas measured.

The calibration of a low flow gas meter was investigated and an approximately linear variation with flow rate was found; hence in situ calibration is advised for this type of instrument. Correction for atmospheric conditions should be performed in real time to reduce errors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6339-6346
Number of pages8
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number24
Early online date5 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biogas production
  • Volumetric measurement
  • Gas solubility
  • Permeation


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