The influence of users' behavior on biogas production from low cost tubular digesters: A technical and socio-cultural field analysis

J. Martí-Herrero, M. Ceron, R. Garcia, L. Pracejus, R. Alvarez, X. Cipriano

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27 Scopus citations


The aim of this paper is to understand the influence of the user behavior on tubular digesters performance, through a technical and a social approach in the Bolivian context. Fifteen domestic digesters were evaluated, from which 6 were installed in the Altiplano and other 6 in the Andean Valleys. Data about slurry temperature, feedstock and biogas quality were collected from these 12 digesters, while daily biogas production and feeding pattern were also monitored from further three digesters in the valleys. Because of changes in user behavior along the monitoring period and particular characteristics of the digesters monitored, 5 complete patterns of biogas production and digester management were established. Furthermore, the results of a socio-cultural study with Andean families about the perception of poverty, their needs and the role played by digesters in their expectations in improving life quality, are correlated to the obtained technical data. The technical evaluation shows how the digester management seems to have a seasonal performance throughout the year according to the agricultural calendar. This means that families are more interested in using bioslurry in crops and agricultural improvements than in the use of biogas. The Bolivian government subsidy on liquefied gas seems to be one of the key issues to understand these results. Finally, data also reveals how the thermal behavior of tubular digesters adapted to cold climate that use a passive solar design, is similar to the thermal behavior of valley digesters, and therefore intends to add the same passive heating techniques for warm and tropical climates, to increase slurry temperatures and achieve a higher biogas production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-83
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy for Sustainable Development
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support to carry out this research was provided by Hivos , with the collaboration of PROSUCO , the Endev-Bolivia Program of the GIZ , the Caribbean and Latin American Biodigesters Net (RedBioLAC) and the Research Center of Biodigesters, Biogas and Biol (CIB3, Bolivia). Also thanks to Georg Gruenberg (BOKU) and Michael Sturm (ITT) as local thesis tutors of Linda and Maria. Jaime Martí-Herrero is thankful to the Prometeo Project of the Secretariat for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation of the Republic of Ecuador that funded part of his work. The authors wish to acknowledge the revision of the document by Mike Baker and Samay Schütt. Suggestions provided by three anonymous reviewers improved this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 International Energy Initiative.


  • Biogas production
  • Bioslurry
  • Cold climate
  • Household low cost tubular digester
  • Socio-cultural technical analysis


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