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Aeration in a photobioreactor

September 29th, 2010 | 3 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

I started yet another interesting day at office by opening the archives of newsletters and went through all the organized data stored in its annals. I came across some very useful data dealing with various aspects of aeration in a photobioreactor and felt it would be very insensitive of me not to share it with all the wonderful readers of the Oilgae blog. So here is a series of posts dealing with the above-mentioned topic:

Aeration of cultures serves to keep algae in suspension, to supply the carbon needed for plant growth and pH control, and to strip O2 from the culture media, preventing supersaturation. The aerator system comprises any suitable equipment for:
(a) Introducing a carbon dioxide supply into the bioreactor
• Carbon dioxide can be blended with compressed air at a certain percentage (preferably from 0.1% up to 20% of CO2) to provide carbon source for algal photosynthesis.
• In some cases, organic carbon (for example, in the form of acetic acid and/or glucose) can be added as needed into the culture medium to support algal growth.
• Any suitable source of carbon dioxide can be used, including but not limited to industrial grade, food grade, CO2-rich flue gases emitted from power generators burning coal

(b) Efficient culture mixing
• To ensure that all algal cells come in contact with the nutrients, CO2 and light for optimum growth.
• To ensure that produced oxygen is removed from the culture systems.
• To maintain effective turbulent flow within the photobioreactor

Optimum Aeration Condition in a Photobioreactor
Several studies have characterized the optimized aeration by carbon dioxide gas for microalgal production in a photobioreactor. Air enriched with 5% or 10% (v/v) CO2 at rates of 0.025-1 vvm (volume of air/ medium/time) is found to be cost-effective for mass culture (Zhang et al, 2002). In flat panel photobioreactors, an optimum aeration rate of 0.05 v/v/min has been proposed sufficient to improve the mixing and mass transfer (Sierra et al, 2008).

Types of Aerator Equipments Used in a Photobioreactor
There are different types of equipments that serve aeration purposes. Most common among them include spargers or diffusers. The following details provide the features of a few types of the aerator designs employed in a photobioreactor.
Sparger is constructed with materials like biopolymers, or perforated metal or sintered glass with varying pore size based on the design and operation requirement. The sparger is connected to the base of the photobioreactor. The bioreactor is aerated by rising CO2enriched air bubbles into the bottom of the photobioreactor via sparger assembly. The bubbles move up the entire photobioreactor column thereby getting dissolved in the culture medium.
Bubble formation process at the sparger can be separated into 2 stages:
In the first stage, the bubble expands, while staying attached to the nozzle
In the second stage, the buoyancy forces cause the bubble to move away from the nozzle. Bubble growth continues through a narrowing neck connecting the bubble to the nozzle. When this neck closes and the bubble detaches from the nozzle, fluid rushes in to the region of the bubble neck

There are different types of aerators equipped in a photobioreactor. Some important types are:
 Porous Tube Diffuser
 Silicone Rubber Diffuser
 Sandstone and Stainless Steel Disk for Air Diffusion
 Sintered Air Diffuser
 Membrane Sparger
 Mott Sparger
 Ring or Orifice Sparger

We’ll see in some detail, the characteristics of these aerators in the next blog.

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3 Responses to “Aeration in a photobioreactor”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    A good Photobioreactor can yield a full production of algae in as little as four days. By producing in bulk quantities continuously, the cost of the end product is made much cheaper. To make it effective, a three second light and 9 seconds darkness technique is applied. It makes the process much faster. The sunlight or through the help of a concave mirror may be the source of light. After which, the algae is harvested at the bottom of the funnel. algae bioreactor manufacturer

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  1. Characteristics of major Aerators - Oilgae Blog  

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