Insufficient mixing, caused by rheology shifts, may also contribute to the accumulation of excessive amounts of foam at the liquid surface, which can become a serious problem. It negatively affects the whole digestion process, potentially causing a whole range of operational problems which ultimately lead to decreased revenue of the affected biogas plant. It is considered as one of the most frequent and problematic operating problems in biogas reactors today. This is because an affected plant will suffer production losses and increased costs due to having to dispose of the foam, as well as potential physical damage to the reactor.
My research is therefore focused on elucidating the connections and interactions between trace elements, microbial communities, rheology dynamics and foaming potential of anaerobic sludge in biogas reactors. I am particularly interested in determining whether or not we can identify new process parameters that could be monitored in order to predict and prevent undesired shifts in rheology and/or foaming potential.