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Self-rotary propellers with clockwise/counterclockwise blades create spiral flow fields to improve mass transfer and promote microalgae growth

Kumar, Santosh, Cheng, Jun, Guo, Wangbiao, Ali, Kubar Ameer, Song, Yanmei
Bioresource technology 2019 v.286 pp. 121384
Arthrospira platensis, algae culture, biomass, mass transfer, microalgae, mixing, photochemistry, ponds, propellers, shear stress, trichomes
In this work, self-rotary propellers (SRPs) with clockwise/counterclockwise blades were investigated to create spiral flow fields without external power to strengthen gas-liquid mixing and promote microalgal growth in an open raceway pond. The rotational flow around the propellers and spiral flow between the propellers generated extensive wall shear stress in three dimensions. Four-clockwise blades on the propellers exerted better mixing than three-counterclockwise blades. The bubble generation diameter was reduced by 69% and the mass transfer coefficient increased by 49% when the propeller diameter was increased from 32 to 60 mm. The photochemical efficiency (φPSII) of Arthrospira platensis cells was enhanced by 25%, while the helix pitch and trichome lengths were enlarged by 7–16%. Self-rotary propellers (60 mm diameter) with four-clockwise blades enhanced the growth rate of A. platensis biomass by 35% compared to that in an unmodified raceway pond without propellers.