Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Environmental Engr. (M.S.E.V.)

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sarina J. Ergas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel H. Yeh, Ph.D.


Biogas, Manure Treatment, Anaerobic Digestion, Climate Change, Carbon, Methane, Cooking Fuels, Sustainable Development Goals, Panamá


Anaerobic digestion is the process by which organic carbon is converted into biogas in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). Both of these products are greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Therefore if anaerobic reactors are improperly maintained and biogas is leaked or intentionally released into the atmosphere because biogas production exceeds household demand, these reactors may become generators of greenhouse gas emissions instead of sustainable energy producers. The objective of this research was to develop a framework to assess if the demand for biogas by a rural adopter of an anaerobic digester matched with the associated local gas production. A literature review of the energy required to prepare commonly consumed food of rice and beans was conducted to establish required household biogas volumes. This review determined that 0.06 m3 of methane was required to prepare a half a kg of rice (on a dry weight basis) and 0.06 m3 of methane was required to prepare a half a kg of beans (on a dry weight basis). Furthermore an analysis of occupants of a rural Panamanian town was performed along with a design model for rural anaerobic reactor gas production to determine if an overproduction of biogas would occur if anaerobic reactors were built for families who owned swine. It was determined using this approach that all of the fifteen household would experience an overproduction of biogas based on household demand of methane and therefore would risk the release of greenhouse gases. Household size ranged from one to seven occupants and swine ownership ranged from one to fifteen per household. The differences of biogas supply with respect to demand from these fifteen situations ranged from 0.09 to 0.35 m3 of a biogas with 40% methane and 0.27 to 6.17 m3 of excess biogas with a methane content of 70% per household per day. An average of 0.45 m3 of a biogas with 40% methane per household per day was calculated and 0.87m3 for 70% methane for all fifteen households, excluding one outlier. However, because this research uses a model based on plug flow reactor mechanics, results may produce varied results from other studies concerning small scale anaerobic digestion.