Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 21, pp 21149–21163 | Cite as

Effluent composition prediction of a two-stage anaerobic digestion process: machine learning and stoichiometry techniques

  • Luz Alejo
  • John Atkinson
  • Víctor Guzmán-Fierro
  • Marlene RoeckelEmail author
Research Article


Computational self-adapting methods (Support Vector Machines, SVM) are compared with an analytical method in effluent composition prediction of a two-stage anaerobic digestion (AD) process. Experimental data for the AD of poultry manure were used. The analytical method considers the protein as the only source of ammonia production in AD after degradation. Total ammonia nitrogen (TAN), total solids (TS), chemical oxygen demand (COD), and total volatile solids (TVS) were measured in the influent and effluent of the process. The TAN concentration in the effluent was predicted, this being the most inhibiting and polluting compound in AD. Despite the limited data available, the SVM-based model outperformed the analytical method for the TAN prediction, achieving a relative average error of 15.2% against 43% for the analytical method. Moreover, SVM showed higher prediction accuracy in comparison with Artificial Neural Networks. This result reveals the future promise of SVM for prediction in non-linear and dynamic AD processes.

Graphical abstract


Anaerobic digestion Protein degradation Machine learning Prediction methods Support vector machines 



This research was conducted with the FONDECYT (Chile) No. 1140491, INNOVA (Chile) No. 12IDL2-13605, CONICYT-PCHA/Doctorado Nacional2016/21160226 and INNOVA (Chile) No 15VEIID-45613 grants.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luz Alejo
    • 1
  • John Atkinson
    • 2
  • Víctor Guzmán-Fierro
    • 1
  • Marlene Roeckel
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de Ingeniería QuímicaUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  2. 2.Facultad de Ingeniería y CienciasUniversidad Adolfo IbáñezSantiagoChile

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