Addressing problems at small-scale biogas plants: a case study from central Vietnam

Type Journal Article - Journal of Cleaner Production
Title Addressing problems at small-scale biogas plants: a case study from central Vietnam
Volume 112
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 2784-2792
The anaerobic digestion process is an important technology in improving the environment because it
solves organic waste management problems and simultaneously produces both biogas and fertiliser. The
use of biogas plants has been spreading in many developing countries, bringing various operational
problems with their widening use. This study attempts to identify the problems with this technology at
the level of owners of biogas plants (n ¼ 141) and local facilitators (n ¼ 9) in central Vietnam. A survey
was conducted from July to September 2012. The methods of data collection included focus group discussions,
semi-structured personal interviews and a questionnaire survey. The survey revealed that 29%
of biogas plant owners have experienced at least one problem with this technology. The most frequently
encountered problem is linked to leakages from reactors leading to undesired CH4 emissions, which
sometimes stopped the biogas plants from functioning. Other problems concern the failure of biogas
cookers to properly function with solid digestate incrustation floating in the main tank, resulting in
decreased biogas production. The respondents call for better-trained builders and facilitators, who are
often unable to solve difficulties encountered with BGPs. The importance of a working information flow
between actors is demonstrated. The study also involves the calculation of the payback period of biogas
plants. The findings show a linear relationship between the payback period and biogas plant-owners'
satisfaction with biogas technology, biogas production and the biogas programme. In addition, the study
recommends improvements in the skills of facilitators because they have a direct impact on the quality of
training of BGP owners and builders. In conclusion, this study provided an innovative problem analysis of
biogas technology along with appropriate recommendations. It demonstrated the need for further
research on the eradication of problems associated with biogas technology

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