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Computational fluid dynamics coupled to biokinetic models: numerical methodology for microalgae cultivation optimization

Abstract: Mixing of the algal culture medium in a photobioreactor (PBR) is a crucial factor to enhance microalgae cultivation and production, since it ensures microalgae cells can homogeneously access nutrients and light radiation. Hydrodynamic conditions in an industrially applicable PBR cannot be tested in laboratory cultivation systems since the scale-up methodology is not specified; hence requiring complex tests at a demonstrative scale or the application of mathematical models. In this study, a three-dimensional numerical model of the hydrodynamic conditions in a hybrid horizontal tubular PBR was developed to investigate the mixing of the culture medium under various operating conditions, in order to optimize biomass production in this type of system. The PBR consists of two open tanks connected through sixteen polyethylene transparent tubes, at a demonstrative scale (total volume 11.7 m3). Microalgae cells movement inside the tubes was simulated. Cell trajectory prediction allows to simulate the intensity of mixing of the culture medium. Subsequent coupling with the biokinetic BIO_ALGAE model allows to monitor the influence of hydrodynamic conditions on the distribution of light in the culture medium and the yield of microalgae. The simulations were experimentally validated. The more intense mixing of the culture medium caused by increasing flow rate (Re = 23,700-46,200) allows more frequent exposure of the microalgae cells to the light source, which according to the results obtained can increase the microalgal yield by 14% in the summer cultivation period and by 151% in the winter period.

 Autoría: Belohlav V., Jirout T., Uggetti E., Díez-Montero R., García J.,

 Fuente: Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 2024, 181, 367-376

 Editorial: Institution of Chemical Engineers

 Fecha de publicación: 01/01/2024

 Nº de páginas: 29

 Tipo de publicación: Artículo de Revista

 DOI: 10.1016/j.psep.2023.11.038

 ISSN: 0957-5820,1744-3598

 Url de la publicación: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psep.2023.11.038