Alternative Energy Sources

Comparison of Two Different Vertical Column Photobioreactors for the Cultivation of Nannochloropsis sp.

[+] Author and Article Information
Oscar Pupo Roncallo

e-mail: opupo@uninorte.edu.co

Samira García Freites

e-mail: sfreites@uninorte.edu.co
Mechanical Engineering Department,
Universidad del Norte,
Km 5 vía Puerto Colombia,
Barranquilla, 080001, Colombia

Edgardo Paternina Castillo

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana,
Km 8 vía a Cereté,
Montería, 230007, Colombia
e-mail: edgardo.paternina@upbmonteria.edu.co

Antonio Bula Silvera

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Universidad del Norte,
Km 5 vía Puerto Colombia,
Barranquilla, 080001, Colombia
e-mail: abula@uninorte.edu.co

Adriana Cortina

CENIACUA Research Institute,
Cartagena corregimiento de Punta Canoa,
Cartagena, 130001, Colombia
e-mail: acortina@ceniacua.org

Francisco Acuña

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Universidad del Norte,
Km 5 vía Puerto Colombia,
Barranquilla, 080001, Colombia
e-mail: facuna@uninorte.edu.co

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Energy Resources Technology. Manuscript received April 22, 2012; final manuscript received September 16, 2012; published online November 6, 2012. Assoc. Editor: Sarma V. Pisupati.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 135(1), 011201 (Nov 06, 2012) (7 pages) Paper No: JERT-12-1082; doi: 10.1115/1.4007689 History: Received April 22, 2012; Revised September 16, 2012

A photobioreactor (PBR) for microalgae culture is a highly efficient system for biomass production. In the present study, the performance of an airlift (ALR) (with a centric-tube column) and a bubble column (BC) photobioreactors were compared considering Nannochloropsis sp. growth. The experiments were carried out keeping average light intensity, temperature, volume culture, and CO2 supply constant, while cell concentration and pH level were measured and examined. Furthermore, a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation in cfx, ansys 11.0, was developed using a multiphase flow model with an Eulerian approach to evaluate the hydrodynamic behavior of both systems. The results showed that a higher cell concentration (375 × 105 cell/ml) was obtained in the airlift PBR yielding a better growth rate than the bubble column PBR. In terms of hydrodynamic performance, the existence of the centric-tube in the airlift system shows a well-defined flow pattern, better light distribution cycle, and more effective mixing. These hydrodynamic characteristic of the airlift PBR may allow a better yield for the microalgae biomass production.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Diagram of the bubble column and airlift PBR

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Fig. 2

CAD models for bubble column and airlift PBRs

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Volume mesh for bubble column and airlift PBR

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Air velocity vectors for bubble column and airlift PBRs

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Gas holdup contours for bubble column and airlift PBRs

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Water velocity vectors for bubble column and airlift PBRs

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Water velocity contours for bubble column and airlift PBRs

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Fig. 8

Airlift photobioreactor with Nannochloropsis sp. culture

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

Cell concentration variation for the experiments

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Fig. 10

pH variation during the experiments

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Fig. 11

Cell concentration and pH variation for airlift PBR



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