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Comprehensive computational model for combining fluid hydrodynamics, light transport and biomass growth in a Taylor vortex algal photobioreactor: Lagrangian approach

Gao, Xi, Kong, Bo, Vigil, R. Dennis
Bioresource technology 2017 v.224 pp. 523-530
Chlorella vulgaris, algae, biomass, growth models, hydrodynamics, radiative transfer, specific growth rate
A comprehensive quantitative model incorporating the effects of fluid flow patterns, light distribution, and algal growth kinetics on biomass growth rate is developed in order to predict the performance of a Taylor vortex algal photobioreactor for culturing Chlorella vulgaris. A commonly used Lagrangian strategy for coupling the various factors influencing algal growth was employed whereby results from computational fluid dynamics and radiation transport simulations were used to compute numerous microorganism light exposure histories, and this information in turn was used to estimate the global biomass specific growth rate. The simulations provide good quantitative agreement with experimental data and correctly predict the trend in reactor performance as a key reactor operating parameter is varied (inner cylinder rotation speed). However, biomass growth curves are consistently over-predicted and potential causes for these over-predictions and drawbacks of the Lagrangian approach are addressed.