Oilgae Comprehensive Report

Expertise required to design photobioreactors

Discusses PBR design, various types of PBRs, case studies, costs...

Expertise required to design photobioreactors

Postby cacofonix » Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:25 am

There are quite a few companies that are coming up with unique PBR designs...which got me thinking...what are the specific expertise required for designing algae photobioreactors? what are the various engineering and scientific skills one requires in the team to design an exceptional PBR?
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Re: Expertise required to design photobioreactors

Postby SCIPIO » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:53 am

I've got 15+ years in R&D of all manner of things like aerospace, bioremediation, automotive emissions systems, and medical devices. A couple of years focusing exclusively on what algae needs to grow and thrive with emphasis on how to design a PBR that provides those things. And only those things, doesn't hurt. :ugeek:
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Re: Expertise required to design photobioreactors

Postby rlantis » Fri May 22, 2009 8:02 pm

It seems that the breadth and depth of required expertise is very much dependent upon the specific biomass process of interest, and that there is no panacea that simultaneously addresses the needs of all.

For example, when we categorize the main types of algal technologies and their various subdivisions, the mix of desirable disciplines and expertise can quickly become daunting. However, as we increase the focus and target a specific species and process, it becomes a very manageable and rather clearly-defined set of requirements.

As a more specific example, if it is determined that a closed reactor with artificial lighting (or even a solar-artificial hybrid) is desirable for the identified species, then for most of these PBR architectures expertise might be required from the diverse areas of:

Photoreactor kinetics
Optics & photonics modeling, analysis, & design
CFD modeling, integrated with both optics & PBR kinetics modeling
Pulsed light (LED and electric discharge) source design
Pulsed power development
Processes & product design
Research & development
Photoreactor ideation, invention, and IP development
... and more!

Often it is "the stuff we didn't even know about" that eventually becomes the death-knell of a project (or business proposition), so it is essential that management approach any competitive endeavor with "eyes wide open" and with the full engagement of knowledgeable experts who, in sum, encompass the relevant technologies required for the algal process.
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Re: Expertise required to design photobioreactors

Postby Asen Nenov » Wed May 27, 2009 2:11 am

Please, be very careful when starting garage scale design of a bioreactor. It will probably do some fancy stuff, and probably you will get some biomass. The problem is you do not have a model for this complex machine, and therefore you will never be able to scale it up for real production. This is why the design of biotechnological instruments is heavier than in chemical industry - we use extremely complex living organisms, and they are difficult to model (but not impossible, after all).

What you will need to read before starting with a design of a bioreactor is:
1. Physics of fluids (viscosity, velocity, laminar and turbulent flow), light (wavelength, brightness), pressure.
2. Fluid flow mechanics for Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids.
3. Thermodynamics (basics).
4. Heat transfer through different materials.
5. Mass transfer in different media (gas transfer from sparger to fluid, and from fluid to cell).
6. Light transfer (when interested in PBR).
7. Basic biology of the cell (plant cell, when interested in PBR for algae production).
8. Chemistry (basics).
9. Mathematics (differential equations).
10. Be extremely careful with experimental design, when decided to proof that some PBR works.

Summary: PBR design is extremely complex task, and I will advice anyone who is not an expert in the field not to take any chances by designing it by themselves. It simply will not work.
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Re: Expertise required to design photobioreactors

Postby BioBert » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:02 am

fear not good friend,anyone with common sense can grow algae.come check out my pool and fish tank.
the task at hand is to produce large quantities of it at a low cost for commercial purposes,pure and without trash in it.
keep it simple stupid.remember that.Everyone is building these huge PBR's. The overhead makes my head hurt.
my grandad said," that an inventor is nothin more than a lazy man lookin for an easy way to do something".
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Re: Expertise required to design photobioreactors

Postby tomc112 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:14 pm

Do you think Alexander Bell knew all the things that have come about due to his discovery? Any new process such as PBR requires men and women working in garages or basements applying the scientific method (Trial and error) until they come up with the best way to do this. To say you need 10 Phd's to scale it up is flat out wrong. You need an open mind , passion, and belief that you can do it better and then go out and prove it. Carry on the good fight and put big oil out of business. When it comes time after your discovery to improve upon it then you can hire the PhD's.
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Re: Expertise required to design photobioreactors

Postby enewe101 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:39 am

Asen Nenov wrote:What you will need to read before starting with a design of a bioreactor is:
1. Physics of fluids (viscosity, velocity, laminar and turbulent flow), light (wavelength, brightness), pressure.
2. Fluid flow mechanics for Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids.
3. Thermodynamics (basics).
4. Heat transfer through different materials.
5. Mass transfer in different media (gas transfer from sparger to fluid, and from fluid to cell).
6. Light transfer (when interested in PBR).
7. Basic biology of the cell (plant cell, when interested in PBR for algae production).
8. Chemistry (basics).
9. Mathematics (differential equations).
10. Be extremely careful with experimental design, when decided to proof that some PBR works.


Well, I guess Ottawa U produces good biotech grads, I've got this guy's laundry list more than covered. Differential Equations? How about coding up unsteady-state implicitly-solved models of coupled partial differential equations from scratch!? -- Got the T-shirt. I also know some welders in the area and may be able to call in favours in a plant biotech lab here in Otta-twats.

Problem is, I've got a downtown apartment here in Ottawa Canada, a hefty debt, and zero floor space.

Right now I work for a cellulosic biofuels company, but my guts are telling me algae is the way...

Who's got some space, cash, and is serious about this?? LET'S GO!!
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