Microalgae Grown in Photobioreactors for Mass Production of Biofuel

Need for Sustainable Energy
The Price of Energy is Going UP
Oil reserves are depleting World demand for energy is increasing

Economic Stability/National Security
Not good to have energy dependence on foreign countries

Global Warming
Fossil fuels release greenhouse gases

Why focus on Biodiesel?
Ease of Implementation
Diesel engines require little modification Many homes currently use oil for heat

Less Fuel Would be Needed than Ethanol
Has a 56.25% higher energy content Diesel engines are more efficient than spark-plug

Oil Yield Comparison
Crop Oil yield (L/ha) 172 446 1190 1892 2689 5950 Land area needed (M ha)a 1540 594 223 140 99 45 Percent of existing US cropping areaa 846 326 122 77 54 24 Corn Soybean Canola Jatropha Coconut Oil palm

Microalgaeb Microalgaec

136,900 58,700

2 4.5

1.1 2.5

a For meeting 50% of all transport fuel needs of the United States. b 70% oil (by wt) in biomass. c 30% oil (by wt) in biomass.

http://www.emergi ngmarkets.com/biodi esel/default.asp

Advantages of Algae
Less Land is Required
More biomass is obtained Contains higher concentrations of lipids than terrestrial plants

High Quality Biodiesel
Cold filter plugging point comparable to #2 diesel2 No Phosphatides, as in biodiesel from plants3 Can capture CO2 from exhaust streams

Microalga Oil content
Botryococcus braunii Chlorella sp. Crypthecodinium cohnii Cylindrotheca sp. Dunaliella primolecta Isochrysis sp. Monallanthus salina Nannochloris sp. Nannochloropsis sp. Neochloris oleoabundans Nitzschia sp. Phaeodactylum tricornutum Schizochytrium sp. Tetraselmis sueica

Oil Content of Some 5 Microalgae

(% dry wt)
25–75 28–32 20 16–37 23 25–33 >20 20–35 31–68 35–54 45–47 20–30 50–77 15–23

Algae Production Methods
Raceway Ponds
Open system, used for production of algae for health food

Maximize algae growth with controlled conditions

Photobioreactor Variations

Maximize the Biomass Production Rate, g/L-d
Equal to the product of the dilution rate and effluent biomass concentration.
Defined as the ratio of the incoming flow rate to the reactor volume

Dilution rate is equal to the specific growth rate at steady state

Specific Growth Rate
Defined as the increase in cell mass per unit time per unit cell mass.
May be determined empirically by:
specific growth rate = [μ]= Ln (N2 / N1) / (t2 - t1) Where N1 and N2 = biomass at time1 (t1) and time2 (t2) respectively; Levasseur et al (1993).10 Its units are inverse hours.

May be modeled as a function of solar irradiance and the maximum specific growth rate.
Practical Model:
μ = μmax*Iav/(Ik + Iav) Where Iav is the average irradiance inside the reactor and Ik is an organism-specific constant.

Design Considerations
Effects of Solar Irradiance
Solar inhibition

Mass Transfer of Gases Through Fluid
CO2 supply and O2 removal

Cell Damage from Shear Stress
For high flow rates

Nutrient Addition, pH and Temperature Control

Solar Irradiance and Inhibition
Dissolved Oxygen is directly related to photosynthetic activity. Photoinhibition causes decline in photosynthetic activity at midday.

Solution to Photoinhibition
Increase cycle frequency of fluid between dark and light zones. Cycle frequency is increased by increasing the fluid velocity.

CO2 Bubbling - Mass Transfer
Carbon dioxide needs to be added continuously
CO2 can be consumed at a rate of 26 g CO2/m3-h

Oxygen produced during photosynthesis needs to be removed.
High oxygen concentration inhibits growth Photooxidation can damage cells
Influence of the oxygen molar fraction in the injected gas on: (a) the steady-state biomass concentration; and (b) the photosynthetic activity (i.e. the volumetric oxygen generation rate) in indoor cultures. The dilution rate and the irradiance level were 0.025 h−1 and 300 μE m−2 s−1, respectively. 1

CO2 Bubbling – Effect of Fluid Velocity

Superficial fluid velocity is related to gas velocity and bubble diameter Cycling frequency between light and dark zones is dependent on fluid velocity Shearing damage to cells results from increased radial velocity
High radial velocity decreases length of micro-eddies So does increasing the tube diameter

Nutrient Addition, pH and Temperature Control
Algae require nitrogen and phosphorous
Ammonia is the preferred nitrogen source Conjunction with WWTP

Optimal pH is between 7.5 and 8.5
Nutrient addition increases pH Sufficient CO2 must be added to keep the pH from increasing too much

Optimal temperature is between 20 and 30C
Maintained with heat exchangers and cooling water Especially important at night to reduce losses due to respiration

Converting Algae to Fuel
Most common method of converting vegetable oil to biodiesel Requires the algal suspension first be harvested, dried, and pressed for oil

Converting Algae to Fuel
Thermochemical Liquefaction
Can be applied directly to algal suspension Uses high temperature and pressurized nitrogen to evaporate water CH2Cl2 Catalyst Separates Biodiesel

Thermochemical Liquefaction of B. braunii
Heating energy for liquefaction: 6.69 MJ/kg
For a biomass concentration of 0.5 g/L produced from raceway ponds

Heating value of oil produced: 45.9 MJ/kg Concentration in photobioreactors: 6.6g/L
Much less energy required on kg basis

Achieved Rates of Productivity for P. tricornutum
Volume L 220 220 220 220 200 UL m/s 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.5 D, h-1 0.025 0.04 0.04 0.04 0.05 Iwm 2366 2319 2860 1211 1289 Cb , g/L 6.6 4.4 5.1 2.7 2.38 Pb, g/L-d 1.66 1.76 ν, Hz Source 0.684 16

0.0628 16 0.0638 16 0.651 16 11

1.08 1.19

Energy Yield
Maximum tube length = 80 m Maximum tube diameter = 0.1 m So maximum volume of single reactor = 628.3 L = 0.6283 m3 Assume oil production rate = 2 g/L-d * 50% oil content = 1 g/L-d = 1 kg/m3-d If 270 tubes can fit on one acre, than 62,000 kg of oil/acre could be produced.
Or (density = 0.864 kg/L) 71,759 L = 19,136


Almost 20,000 gallons/acre of oil that may potentially be produced with current technology With thermochemical liquefaction, the energy required to extract oil is minimal Main Constraint: Huge Capital Investment – reactor tubes, water pumps, gas pumps, autoclave for liquefaction. Economies of Scale – How long before oil production pays for infrastructure investment?