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Instruments for anaerobic batch and continuous fermentation tests

The anaerobic batch fermentation test is a well-established test system for the determination of the biogas potential and biochemical methane potential (BMP) of organic materials, specific methanogenic activity (SMA), residual gas potential (RGP) and substrate inhibition. Several standards and guideline are available for performing batch anaerobic fermentation tests, such as VDI 4630 (2016) and ISO 11734 (1995). These laboratory-based tests give a biogas or biomethane yield which can provide information regarding

  • Fundamental evaluation of the possible biogas / methane yield and of the anaerobic biological degradability of organic materials
  • Qualitative appraisal of the kinetics of anaerobic degradation
  • Qualitative evaluation of the inhibitory effect

The AMPTS® is a well-recognized and the recommended laboratory platform according to the German norm VDI 4630 and several international laboratory protocols for conducting biochemical methane potential or biomethane potential (BMP), specific methanogenic activity (SMA) and biohydrogen potential analyses. Cited in more than 600 peer-reviewed scientific articles in English and more in other languages and conference proceedings, the AMPTS® is the preferred analytical tool of scientists and engineers for conducting a wide variety of anaerobic batch fermentation tests.

The batch fermentation tests are, however, not designed for evaluating process stability with continuous feeding, biogas yield under practical conditions due to possible negative or positive synergistic effects, the mono-fermentability of a substrate under process conditions or the limits of the organic loading rate per unit volume. Instead, these objectives of investigation are addressed by continuous anaerobic fermentation trials. For process optimisation, a combination of batch tests and continuous tests should be carried out: the continuous test simulates long-term process conditions, whereas a large number of batch tests running in parallel provide results relating to the effects of relevant parameter variations. The batch test is also used for the pre-selection of process variants for the subsequent continuous trials.

Due to a broad range of process configurations and lack of standardised test procedures for continuous test, it is often not straightforward to find a standard laboratory platform and both ample time and effort for customisation is required. BPC Instruments offers BPC® μFlow, BPC® BioReactor Simulator and anaerobic BPC® Bioreactors in various sizes and configurations that allow you to easily set up test platforms for simulating your anaerobic digestion processes in continuous operations at both laboratory- and small pilot-scales.

Preferred analytical instruments for anaerobic fermentation assays

Areas of application

related to anaerobic digestion and biogas production

AMPTS® series are recommended as the automated test apparatus for biochemical methane potential (BMP) tests according to the batch test procedure by German norm VDI 4630. AMPTS® series are also the most widely used and well-recognised analytical tools for conducting anaerobic batch fermentation tests for both scientific research and analysis in biogas industry.

AMPTS® series are used as the recommended experimental platform to execute the specific methanogenic activity (SMA) analysis and used to demonstrate the test procedure in the laboratory practice in an open course offered by TU Delft (The Netherlands).

As a typical example, residual gas potential is a very challenging test concerning the monitoring of extremely low quantity of gas production under cold condition and very long incubation time. AMPTS® series is well approved by scientists to measure low residual gas production under cold conditions in high accuracy and precision.

AMPTS® series can be used to conduct screening methods, i.e. ISO 13641-1 and ISO 13641-2, for assessing the potential toxicity of substances by determining the production of biogas from sludge, muds, sediments and other anaerobic environments over the desired time period in days and weeks.

The requirements of instruments, level of system customization and amount of necessary supervision are often significantly greater with continuous fermentation trails than with the batch test. BPC offers high quality online process monitoring system for gas flow, pH, ORP, temperature and other customer defined process parameters. Compact and modularized anaerobic digesters cover CSTR, UASB, EGSB and IC configurations and are designed for bench- and small pilot-scale continuous fermentation test and process simulation.

benefits & advantages

Highly precise and accurate data

BPC’s equipment designed for anaerobic batch and continuous fermentation tests (e.g. AMPTS® series, BPC® BioReactor Simulator and BPC® µFlow) gives you a better understanding of the degradation kinetics of any specific substrate and dynamic degradation behaviour of continuous process operations. The precision of measurements and data calculations have been validated with the highest quality and standards by scientists in international inter-laboratory BMP studies.

Significant reduction in time consumption and labour requirements

Fully automated analytical procedures, extendable testing capacity and full control of experiments with remote access, the AMPTS® series, BPC® BioReactor Simulator and BPC® µFlow reduce labour and skill demands for performing both batch and continuous fermentation analyses with high precision and accuracy.

Standardised measurement procedures, data interpretations and reports

Real-time temperature and pressure compensations minimise the impact of possible variations in measurement conditions in analysis and standardise data presentation, satisfying the highest demands for data accuracy and precision. An adaptive nonlinear mathematical model is also implemented in the latest released AMPTS® series, BPC® BioReactor Simulator to achieve an outstanding high linearity for gas volume and flow measurement in all measurement ranges.

Compact and modular design

The modular approach enables flexible system set-up, easy upgrading options and simple maintenance. The AMPTS® series can easily be further expanded by connecting multiple instruments with a network switch in order to satisfy demands and shorten development times.

User-friendly operations with remote access

Simple to use and easy to learn. The web-based software application makes setting up and monitoring experiments very easy. The AMPTS® series, as well as the BPC® BioReactor Simulator, also allows easy access from a remote location using any computer, smartphone or tablet.

– a tool for anaerobic batch fermentation tests

The Automatic Methane Potential Test System (AMPTS®) II is the analytical tool preferred by scientists and engineers for conducting various anaerobic batch fermentation tests. The instrument can also be used for biochemical hydrogen potential analysis aomong other anaerobic batch fermentation assays such as biochemical methane potential (BMP) tests, anaerobic biodegradability studies, specific methanogenic activity (SMA) assays as well as conducting residual gas potential (RGP) analyses on digested slurry. All of this is performed with easy access to sampling, analysis, recording and report generation; fully integrated and automated.

– simplify the selection & pricing of substrates

The AMPTS® II Light is a sister product of the AMPTS® II. It is the instrument of choice for process engineers and plant operators when selecting and pricing substrates in biogas plants. The instrument is used for analysing, with up to six test vials, biochemical methane potential (BMP), residual gas potential (RGP) as well as anaerobic biodegradability and specific methanogenic activity (SMA) assays. All of this is performed with easy access to sampling, analysis, recording and report generation fully integrated and automated.

– simulate continuous operation of anaerobic processes

Our CSTR and high-rate anaerobic bioreactors (UASB / EGSB and IC) have a modular design, built with high-quality materials and robustness in mind. Intended for anaerobic fermentation tests, both for continuous and batch mode operations, the flexible design and user-friendly functionality makes them the ideal experiment platform for simulating full-scale biogas production processes in laboratory- and pilot- scale.

– continuous fermentation made easy

The BPC® BioReactor Simulator (BRS) is a universal platform for simulating anaerobic fermentation processes in a continuous mode of operation. The system is controlled by a web-based software running on a remote cloud solution. The high quality of the data obtained from the BPC® BioReactor Simulator allows users to gain deeper knowledge for determining the suitability of a potential feedstock for biogas production, defining the suitable organic loading rate or retention time for a given feedstock, designing suitable feeding schedules and assessing handling or disposal conditions for digested residues.

– low gas flow measurements made easy

The BPC® μFlow is a compact standalone low gas flow meter with high precision and accuracy. With a detection range of up to 4000 Nml/hour and a high linearity, it is a perfect flow meter for online, real-time monitoring of inert and slightly aggressive gases at laboratory scale.  By selecting BPC® μFlow and our automatic data acquisition devices, anyone can easily set up a real-time process monitoring system for anaerobic fermentation processes at laboratory scale.


Laboratory experiment protocol

Laboratory experiment protocol of TU Delft Open CourseWare for determination of the specific methanogenic activity (SMA) of anaerobic sludge.

Authors: Merle de Kreuk, Nuria Martí, Yu Tao, Haoyu Wang (Nov 2012) Department of Water Management, Faculty of Civil Eningeering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands)

AMPTS® II is used as the recommended experimental platform for CIE4485 laboratory experiment – SMA Test which is one of the course laboratory practice in the open course offered by TU Delft.


Collection of Methods for Biogas

Book chapter: “Collection of Methods for Biogas – Methods to determine parameters for analysis purposes and parameters that describe processes in the biogas sector: Determination of methane potential of organic biomass using Automatic Methane Potential Test System (AMPTS® II)”

Author: Verschiedene
Editors: Jan Liebetrau, Diana Pfeiffer
Series “Biomass energy use”, Band 7 (2020) 412, 10.3

AMPTS® II series were introduced as an innovative test equipment for determination of methane potential of organic biomass.


Scientific reference on sludge activity test

Article title: “Determination of sludge activity using automated biomethane potential test equipment”

Author: Associate Prof. Bernadette McCabe

National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture, University Southern Queensland (Australia)

40th Annual WIOA, Queensland Water Industry Operations Conference and Exhibition (2015)

The paper provides an overview of the various methods that exist and an insight into sludge activity analysis using AMPTS® and its application in determining sludge activity treating high strength abattoir wastewater.


Online course for wastewater treatment

On-line course for “Experimental methods in wastewater treatment“ produced by TU Delft (The Netherlands)

Authors: Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, Per HalkJær Nielsen, Carlos M. Lopez-Vazquez and Damir Brdjanovic

Publisher: IWA Publishing

AMPTS® II is used as the recommended experimental platform to demonstrate the execution of the biomethane potential (BMP) and specific methanogenic activity (SMA) analyses.


Scientific reference for BMP test

Article title: “Improving inter-laboratory reproducibility in measurement of biochemical methane potential (BMP)”

Authors: S. D. Hafner, H. F. de Laclos, K. Koch, C. Holliger, Water (2020) 12, 1752

Result from two international inter-laboratory studies that include over 40 laboratories from 14 countries in Europe demonstrates AMPTS® II is recognised as the most trustable and reliable automated instruments for biomethane potential (BMP) analysis.


German norm for BMP test

VDI 4630 (2016-11): Fermentation of organic materials – characterization of the substrate, sampling, collection of material data, fermentation tests: batch fermentation tests and continuous fermentation tests.

Publisher: The Association of German Engineers 

The VDI 4630 standard provides rules and specifications for tests to determine the biogas output of organic materials which serve the interpretation and operational optimisation of biogas plants. Thus, it gives comprehensive and practice relevant support for the determination of the biogas orientation of organic materials. AMPTS® is recommended as the only automated test apparatus for biochemical methane potential (BMP) tests based on the batch test procedures in this standard.

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