Gamma distribution function to understand anaerobic digestion kinetics: Kinetic constants are not constant

C. Da Silva, M. Peces, M. Faundez, H. Hansen, J. L. Campos, J. Dosta, S. Astals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Gamma model is a novel approach to characterise the complex degradation dynamics taking place during anaerobic digestion. This three parameters model results from combining the first-order kinetic model and the Gamma distribution function. In contrast to conventional models, where the kinetic constant is considered invariant, the Gamma model allows analysing the variability of the kinetic constant using a probability density function. The kinetic constant of mono-digestion and co-digestion batch tests of different wastes were modelled using the Gamma model and two common first-order models: one-step one-fraction model and one-step two-fraction model. The Gamma distribution function approximates three distinct probability density functions, i.e. exponential, log-normal, and delta Dirac. Specifically, (i) cattle paunch and pig manure approximated a log-normal distribution; (ii) cattle manure and microalgae approximated an exponential distribution, and (iii) primary sludge and cellulose approximated a delta Dirac distribution. The Gamma model was able to characterise two distinct waste activated sludge, one approximated to a log-normal distribution and the other to an exponential distribution. The same cellulose was tested with two different inocula; in both tests, the Gamma distribution function approximated a delta Dirac function but with a different kinetic value. The potential and consistency of Gamma model were also evident when analysing pig manure and microalgae co-digestion batch tests since (i) the mean k of the co-digestion tests were within the values of the mono-digestion tests, and (ii) the profile of the density function transitioned from log-normal to exponential distribution as the percentage of microalgae in the mixture increased.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135579
StatePublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaerobic co-digestion
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • First-order kinetics
  • Gamma distribution
  • Modelling
  • Statistical analysis


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