Instrumentation and control of anaerobic digestion processes: a review and some research challenges

Julie Jimenez, Eric Latrille, Jérôme Harmand, Angel Robles, José Ferrer, Daniel Gaida, Christian Wolf, Francis Mairet, Olivier Bernard, Victor Alcaraz-Gonzalez, Hugo Mendez-Acosta, Daniel Zitomer, Dennis Totzke, Henri Spanjers, Fabian Jacobi, Alan Guwy, Richard Dinsdale, Giuliano Premier, Sofiane Mazhegrane, Gonzalo Ruiz-FilippiAurora Seco, Thierry Ribeiro, André Pauss, Jean Philippe Steyer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


To enhance energy production from methane or resource recovery from digestate, anaerobic digestion processes require advanced instrumentation and control tools. Over the years, research on these topics has evolved and followed the main fields of application of anaerobic digestion processes: from municipal sewage sludge to liquid—mainly industrial—then municipal organic fraction of solid waste and agricultural residues. Time constants of the processes have also changed with respect to the treated waste from minutes or hours to weeks or months. Since fast closed loop control is needed for short time constant processes, human operator is now included in the loop when taking decisions to optimize anaerobic digestion plants dealing with complex solid waste over a long retention time. Control objectives have also moved from the regulation of key variables—measured on-line—to the prediction of overall process performance—based on global off-line measurements—to optimize the feeding of the processes. Additionally, the need for more accurate prediction of methane production and organic matter biodegradation has impacted the complexity of instrumentation and should include a more detailed characterization of the waste (e.g., biochemical fractions like proteins, lipids and carbohydrates) and their bioaccessibility and biodegradability characteristics. However, even if in the literature several methodologies have been developed to determine biodegradability based on organic matter characterization, only a few papers deal with bioaccessibility assessment. In this review, we emphasize the high potential of some promising techniques, such as spectral analysis, and we discuss issues that could appear in the near future concerning control of AD processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-648
Number of pages34
JournalReviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Characterization
  • Control
  • Diagnosis
  • Instrumentation
  • Organic matter


Dive into the research topics of 'Instrumentation and control of anaerobic digestion processes: a review and some research challenges'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this