Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


Agricultural and Biological Engineering

First Advisor

John H. Lumkes

Committee Chair

John H. Lumkes

Committee Member 1

Nathan Mosier

Committee Member 2

Jiqin Ni


Installation of anaerobic digestion systems in urban developing communities has the potential to address multiple problems related to energy and sanitation in a combined systems approach. Anaerobic digesters are used to generate a relatively clean and rich source of energy in the form of biogas to address energy poverty issues. The design resources available for anaerobic digestion projects must be improved to provide greater technical support and project transparency. In order to develop holistic solutions to grand challenges like energy poverty, engineers must be prepared to operate with the complexities of diverse environments. Globalization and the improvement of transdisciplinary project design models have had a profound influence on the international development community. Development engineers must address problems from various frames of reference so as to generate solutions which will be effective and long lasting. The methods of fully integrating systems into a community, while maintaining high quality engineered solutions, are paramount. Implementation of appropriate technologies will be a key enabling technique for effective problem solving and the application of solutions. The purpose of this research is to examine the biogas mechanisms, infrastructure, design tools, and design models that can be developed and implemented to ensure quality, systems based solutions delivered in an effectively holistic and transdisciplinary manner. In order to understand this, the literature exploring the various processes and technologies powering biogas programs as well as those pertaining to transdisciplinary sustainable development models are analyzed. Additionally, this research expands on the development of a design tool and construction manual for biogas digester programs and comments on the current design and implementation models in biogas programs in the context of working with the United Nations on urban biogas resources.