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A model for utilizing industrial off-gas to support microalgae cultivation for biodiesel in cold climates

Laamanen, Corey A., Shang, Helen, Ross, Gregory M., Scott, John A.
Energy conversion and management 2014 v.88 pp. 476-483
algae culture, ambient temperature, biodiesel, carbon, carbon dioxide, climate, cold, dynamic models, energy, feedstocks, heat, industry, lipids, microalgae, ponds, wastes, winter
Lipids produced by microalgae are a promising biofuel feedstock. However, as most commercial mass production of microalgae is in open raceway ponds it is generally considered only a practical option in regions where year-round ambient temperatures remain above 15°C. To address this issue it has been proposed to couple microalgae production with industries that produce large amounts of waste heat and carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 would provide a carbon source for the microalgae and the waste heat would allow year-round cultivation to be extended to regions that experience seasonal ambient temperatures well below 15°C. To demonstrate this concept, a dynamic model has been constructed that predicts the impact on algal pond temperature from both bubbled-in off-gas and heat indirectly recovered from off-gas. Simulations were carried out for a variety of global locations using the quantity off-gas and waste energy from a smelter’s operations to determine the volume of microalgae that could be maintained above 15°C. The results demonstrate the feasibility of year-round microalgae production in climates with relatively cold winter seasons.