The objectives of this study were to: (1) quantify differences in biochemical methane potential (BMP) measured using three measurement methods, including two popular methods (a commercial automated system (AMPTS II) and manual manometric) and one newer method (gravimetric), and (2) assess the importance of the mixing position in the measurement sequence. Powdered microcrystalline cellulose was used as the substrate in simultaneous tests. All methods gave similar results (<8% difference in the mean BMP) and were reasonably accurate (recovery of 80–86% of the theoretical maximum BMP). Manometric BMP values were consistently lower than gravimetric by 4–5%. Precision was lower for the automated method (relative standard deviation (RSD) of about 7%) than for the manual methods (RSD about 1–3%). Mixing after biogas measurement resulted in 3% higher BMP for both manual methods than mixing before, due to the lower measured CH4
production from blanks. This effect may be linked to a fraction of CH4
that remains dissolved or even as attached bubbles, and suggests that mixing before measurement is preferable. The automated volumetric and gravimetric methods (mode 2) gave very similar mean BMP values (1% different). However, kinetic analysis showed that methane production was faster with the automated volumetric method. This could come from an error in the estimation of the CH4
production rate for the automated method, or an increase in the degradation rate due to better mixing. Both automatic volumetric and manual gravimetric measurements met current validation criteria for mean cellulose BMP, but the RSD from the automated system exceeded the limit.
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