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How to achieve ethical energy and

environmental sustainability to satisfy future

energy demands …

The Use Of

Adam A Marsh

MSc Sustainable Energy and Environment

Different Algae



Chlorella sp.
Chlorella sorokiniana:
Very fast growing - (doubling time of 2.5 h)
Tolerant to high temperatures - (optimum 40oC)
Tolerant to high CO2 concentrations - (5 - 40%CO2)
Found in hot springs
Chlorella vulgaris:
Fast growing
Found all over the world in lakes and ponds
Huge amount of literature
Botryococcus braunii
High concentration of lipid hydrocarbons (<70%)
At 50% concentration (dry weight), HHV ~ 34MJ/kg
Can grow in brackish water
Slow growing – (doubling time of a few days)
Can form bio films

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
Can produce pure Hydrogen gas when deprived of S
Rapid growing – (doubling time of 6.4 h achieved)
Limited growth during H2 production
Concentration Temperature

Retention time Nutrients

Flow rate Salinity

light Chlorophyll chemical

CO2 + H2O + (CH2O) + O2 +
energy energy



Chlorophyll mainly absorbs light at
approximately 450 and 650 nm, perceived as
blue and red respectively.
(A) (B)

Different species have individual characteristics.

However, similar tri-region growth curve fits all.

1. Light dependant region;

increased light = increased growth rate.
6.3 W/m2 47.3 W/m2

2. Light independent region; Botryococcus Braunii

constant growth rate between saturation (A)
and photo inhibition (B) light levels.

3. Light dependant region;

increased light = reduced growth rate. W/m2
Photoperiod is the ratio of light and
dark, typically measured out of a Botryococcus Braunii
maximum 24 hour period.

If NADPH and ATP compounds are

available, the remaining processes of
photosynthesis can take place without
the necessity of light.

It can be seen above that algae does

not utilise much more than 12 hours of
light in a 24 hour period.

The maximum growth rate of a

Chlorella sp. can be maintained in 9s
of darkness if each cell has been
exposed to 20 W.m-2 for 0.5s.

1 hour ~ 3.2 minutes




Temperature affects the rate of photosynthesis by

changing the rates of enzyme reactions involved in
systems of the photosynthetic complex.

The maximum growth rate will occur at the optimum

temperature, with declining rates either side of the
Botryococcus Braunii

The optimum temperature will vary for individual


Typical values for algae range from 20 - 35oC

When utilising species for a by-product, the Botryococcus Braunii

optimum temperature for growth may not be the
same as that for optimum production.
CO2 Supply
Current atmospheric CO2 concentrations of dry air
are in the order of 0.038%

Typical CO2 concentrations emitted from a 1500MWe

coal power station will be in the order of 13%

Optimum growth rate of Chlorella vulgaris occurs at Chlorella

2% CO2 concentration Sorokiniana

Highest CO2 reduction efficiency also occurs at 2%

CO2 concentration at 58%

Highest CO2 reduction occurs at optimum growth


Chlorella Sorokiniana will grow well at concentrations

of 13% CO2.

Adding further volumes of bioreactors increases the

volume sequestration linearly with similar
CO2 Supply
Flow Rate and Retention Time
In small reactors, the capacity of CO2 fixation
(and O2 evolution) decreases with an
increasing gas flow rate as the retention time
is dramatically reduced.

Increasing the retention time enables more

sufficient contact between algae and CO2
resulting in better absorption.

However, larger reactors will increase the

retention time by increasing the distance for
which the gas must pass through the culture,
allowing higher gas flow rates to be used. Chlorella sp.

A faster gas flow rate will increase turbulence.

Turbulence will improve the mass transfer
coefficient and vulgaris
will induce mixing of the cells,
allowing each cell time in the light intense
areas of the reactor.
Lihai Fan et al., 2007. Optimization of Carbon Dioxide Fixation by Chlorella vulgaris Cultivated in
a Membrane Photobioreactor, Chem. Eng. Technol.; Volume 30, Issue 8, pg. 1094-1099
CO2 Reduction

This paper claimed the optimum gas flow rate

was 1.25 L/min.

Membranes were used to enhance the gas- Chlorella Vulgaris

liquid mass transfer rate.

T = 25oC; Density; 5x107 cells/mL;
At the rather low luminous intensity of 8W/m2, Irradiance ~ 8 W/m2; CO2 concentration; 1%
and CO2 concentration of 1%, the CO2 fixation
rate was approximately 0.14g/L.h

Original cell density was 5x107 cells/ml


Lihai Fan et al., 2007. Optimization of Carbon Dioxide Fixation by Chlorella vulgaris Cultivated in
a Membrane Photobioreactor, Chem. Eng. Technol.; Volume 30, Issue 8, pg. 1094-1099
1500MWe Power Station

Coal HHV ≈ 30MJ/kg

Coal ≈ 143.3kg/s η=35%

4300MWth 1500MWe
C ≈ 80%
CO2 ≈ 13%
O ≈ 13%
SO2 ≈ 0.005%
H ≈ 6%
O2 ≈ 3.8%
S ≈ 1%
N2 ≈ 82.9%
C ≈ 114.6 kg/s CO2 ≈ 420 kg/s

C + O2 = CO2 nCO2 ≈ 9.6 kmol/s

(12) + 2(16) = (44) VCO2 ≈ 235 m3/s

( @ 25oC )
1 : 2.67 : 3.67
VT ≈ 1815 m3/s
CO2 Reduction
120mm Φ 130mm
Using Chlorella sorokiniana; 1m CSA = 0.0133 m2

1.25 L/min
0.14g CO2/ 0% CO2
13% CO2
Length ?

0.14 g/ : Power plant actually produces

= 2.3 g/m3.s 1815 m3/s @ 13% CO2

1.25 L/min @ 13% CO2 : = 87.3x106 times more massive

= 2.7x10-6 m3/s CO2
= 4.8x10-3 g/s CO2 87.3x106 x 0.133 = 11.61x106 m

Assuming constant reduction 11,610 km of pipeline are needed.

rate, reactor volume required :

4.8x10-3 / 2.3 = 1.77x10-3 m3 4 pipes in each metre width

Reactor length required : 2.9x106m2 horizontal area

1.77x10-3 / 0.0133 = 0.133 m 1.7km2 ≈ 2 km2

Cell Growth
Original cell density = 5x107 cells/ml

= 0.7kg/m3

Original Total Mass = 0.7 x 154.5x103

= 108x103 kg

Doubling time of 2.5 hours = 9.6 doublings a day

Mass grown = 9.6 x 108x103

= 1.04x106 kg/day (dry weight)

= 12 kg/s

Chlorella Sorokiniana has a HHV of 15.6MJ/kg

This is too low for combustion.

However, would provide 187MWth

This is about 4% of power station
Anaerobic Digestion
Anaerobic digestion is a process carried out by micro organisms that can degrade
carbon based matter without the presence of oxygen.

The main products are Carbon Dioxide and Methane. (60% CH4 and 40% CO2)

Biomass is a suitable source for anaerobic digestion.

Reactor CO2 CH4


1.7 kg VS/ 35oC 0.68 kg /

60% reduction in organic matter
Anaerobic Digestion

Methane has a HHV of 55.5 MJ/kg

Kelp can produce biogas at a rate of : Therefore :
0.4 m3/kg VS
266.4 MWth could be produced.
We are producing : (~6% of power plant)
1.04x106 kg/day
12 kg/s (dry weight)
Bioreactor can take 1.7 kg/
Therefore :
This equates to :
245x103 m3 reactors would be needed
416x103 m3/day = 311, 10m high, 10m diameter reactors
4.8 m3/s
3.2 m3/s CO2 (~1.3% of plant)
Algae can serve to be a natural way for removing CO2 emissions.

98% is a realistic reduction value.

Huge crops of algae will be produced daily.

Using as a fuel for the power plant is not a realistic possibility.

Using as a transport fuel will simply re-release the CO2.

Alternative uses must be found.

Research is being carried out in this area.

- Bio-fuels
- Bio-Plastics
- Foods
- Fertiliser
1500MWe, η=35% Coal HHV ≈ 30MJ/kg
114.6 x 3.67 = 420.6
1500 / 0.35 = 4286 4300 / 30 = 143.3
CO2 ≈ 420 kg/s
≈ 4300MWth Coal ≈ 143.3kg/s
420 / 44 = 9.55 kmol/s

C + O2 = CO2 C ≈ 80% CO2 ≈ 9.6 kmol/s

O ≈ 13%
(12) + 2(16) = (44) H ≈ 6% 9.6x103 x 24.5x10-3 = 236
S ≈ 1%
1 : 2.67 : 3.67 VCO2 ≈ 236 m3/s
( @ 25oC )

143.3 x 0.8 = 114.6 VT = 236 / 0.13 = 1815.4

CO2 ≈ 13%
SO2 ≈ 0.005% C ≈ 114.6 kg/s VT ≈ 1815 m3/s
O2 ≈ 3.8%
N2 ≈ 82.9%
 I  I = Light intensity at depth of penetration d

ln   k  C  d Io = Incident light intensity

C = Algae concentration (kg.m-3 or g.l-1)
 Io  d = Depth (m)
k = Light extinction coefficient (

To make enough fuel

from algae to run
entire plant :

Starting density of
11.6kg/m3 is needed