Marine and fresh water growth and harvesting in a single photobioreactor : advantages and challenges

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Proceedings titleThe 4th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts
ConferenceThe 4th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts, June 15-18, 2014, Sante Fe, New Mexico
AbstractGrowth and harvesting are the two main steps contributing to high production costs of microalgae. These two steps were combined using a single vessel to grow marine (Pavlova pinguis) and fresh water (Chlorella vulgaris) microalgae. Combining growth and harvesting steps in a single vessel reduces capital as well as operation and maintenance (O&M) costs. Following the algae growth stage, biomass harvesting was obtained by electroflotation (EF) – electrocoagulation (EC) using a series of flat aluminum electrodes. These electrodes were inserted into the reactor between aligned grooves drilled on opposing sides. Electrical energy consumption during the harvesting stage was optimized as a function of the size and number of electrodes, and current density. Concentrated algal biomass was collected from the tip surface using a scoop. After harvesting, the spent water was assayed for residual nutrients and adjusted for a second growth cycle. Characteristics of the second and first growth cycles were compared. Energy, capital and operations cost savings were estimated. Challenges and solutions of the proposed photobioreactor (PBR) design are presented. For example, to reduce heat load transparent conductive oxide (TCO) coated glass materials were used to construct the PBR. Our recently acquired data show that TCO coated glass improved algae growth by almost 50%, compared to a non-coated control. TCO-coated glass blocks infrared radiation and eliminates the need for water spray cooling. More recently we have developed novel flexible TCO-coated plastic materials that could replace float glass for the construction of high efficiency and cost effective PBR.
Publication date
AffiliationNational Research Council Canada; Energy, Mining and Environment; Aquatic and Crop Resource Development
Peer reviewedNo
NRC numberNRC-EME-55648
NPARC number21272091
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Record identifierb1c0cd43-082d-4069-8dd4-825003c67f01
Record created2014-07-18
Record modified2016-05-09
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