Right type of photobioreactor

Equipments and machineries required for cultivation, harvesting and conversion to fuel

Right type of photobioreactor

Postby guru » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:05 pm

Can anybody suggest me right type of photobioreactor? Some companies are using tubular photobioreactor and some are using flate panel....... Even in tubular photobioreactor some are using vertically arranged and some use horizontally arranged ...Is there any major difference in yield in using these types of PBR.
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Re: Right type of photobioreactor

Postby hogg » Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:10 am

I'm sorry you didn't get an answer to your question. I have that same interest.
I'm planning to lay out some large 10" PVC pipes, cut in half lengthwise.
lay them horizontal and cover with clear plastic.

The Algae can then be scraped off the top of the water. Half the algae at a time.

Anybody?
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Re: Right type of photobioreactor

Postby rlantis » Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:48 am

Without knowing any of your goals, I can only generalize about your question..
The "RIGHT" type of PBR is entirely dependent upon what algae you want to grow, and for what purpose. Then consider what volumes and yields you'll require and at what margins to make your business proposition work. There are so many trade-offs to consider, such as land availability and cost, open vs closed PBR, solar vs synthetic (or hybrid) light sources, and so on. For some, a simpler, less-demanding, and low-cost approach will satisfy their needs; yet for others, a complex, more technically demanding, and more expensively capitalized system might be the only way to satisfy the needs of their markets as well as achieve the efficiencies required for their profit margins and their targeted return on investment.

So, determining your particular needs is the key to then choosing the "right" type of PBR for you. Algae presents many possibilities, and its flexibility is just one of its wonderful characteristics. Good luck in your endeavor!
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Re: Right type of photobioreactor

Postby hogg » Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:47 am

Thanks, and yes there are several types of Alga. I get a lot of them free.
Some of the good producers cost a little money.

I still do not know how to separate the Lipids from the Oil.

I get statements from Chemists that I don't understand.
After I squeeze the Alga, and get the soup in my bucket.

How do I separate the Lipids from the oil in that bucket?
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Re: Right type of photobioreactor

Postby DR Johansen » Mon Dec 07, 2009 1:22 am

hogg wrote:How do I separate the Lipids from the oil in that bucket?
I guess I don't know enough, but your question here doesn't make much sense to me. I thought "lipid" was the technical term for "oil". So seperating "lipids" from "oil" is like seperating "oil" from "oil". Am I wrong?

If you have a big bucket of stuff that has been pressed/ground up/ whatever into a mixture of algae innerds, then seperating the oil from the rest of the stuff is what using the hexane is all about. I think.

Does anyone feel competent enough to write up a step by step recipe for going from algae to biodiesel? I think that is what Hogg is asking for.
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Re: Right type of photobioreactor

Postby conjre » Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:24 am

hogg wrote:How do I separate the Lipids from the oil in that bucket?


The lipids are the oils in the bucket. The algae cells have lipids in them which are the oils we use in chemical reactions to get biodiesel. So split the cells and separate the lipids from the other junk from within the cell. This can be done by a number of different methods currently out there. (mechanical press, chemical solvent, supercritical co2, etc.)

DR Johansen wrote:Does anyone feel competent enough to write up a step by step recipe for going from algae to biodiesel? I think that is what Hogg is asking for.


1) Place small algae batch + nutrients into a growth vessel.
2) Grow for (x) amount of time.
3) Accumulate algae from growth vessel.
4) Extract lipids(oil) from algal cells using many of the known ways on here. (Hopefully these become more economical in the coming years)
5) Place lipids in UV resistant container. (These will probably look green as you'll have some cellular components left)

Now you do the transesterfication of the oil into biodiesel.

1)Take 200mL of Methanol and 5.2g of 92% KOH or Lye; swirl and let sit for 30min. This makes methoxide
2)Heat oil up a bit above room temp to get the viscosity down.
3)Mix in Methoxide mixture with oil and mix for about 30min.
4)Let mixture sit for 12-24hrs.
5)The clear part will be the glycerine which you don't want. (unless you want to make soap :-P) Separate this from the larger portion which is the biodiesel.
6)Take the biodiesel and add some distilled or deionized water to it and mix again with the paint mixer. This will wash the biodiesel for any trace glycerine particles. Then let settle and decant away again. You can technically do this as many times as you want for those of us who are obsessive compulsive or paranoid :-P
7) Heat it to 120F and then let sit. Once it becomes clear it's good to go (clear... not colorless) This may take a few days

There are some testing steps involved to test the quality of your biodiesel but that doesn't affect the actual reaction, just whether you will actually use it or not.

Tada you have biodiesel made from algae. Now just find a way to do it that's cheaper than current other biodiesel products.
Last edited by conjre on Tue Dec 08, 2009 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Right type of photobioreactor

Postby hogg » Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:37 am

Yes, your wrong, and yes there are some pretty competent guys with answers.
The Trouble is they speak in "Scientific gibberish".

So here's where I'm at so far.
I've gathered a bunch of 'word' files from this forum and others into file.
One of my Coffee buddies teaches Biology at the local College.
She's going to get her Scientist's to read what I've got and interpret it in "Man Readable Gibberish" and I'll proceed from there.

Lipids are a little capsule. The oil we want is inside the Capsule. Your diesel cant burn that Capsule, just the oil.
So far, the Hexane solvent method and the Ultrasonic method are the only two methods I know of that can be used for a small operator like me.

When I see the results of my query to the Scientists, I'll share it with y'all.
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Re: Right type of photobioreactor

Postby dacarls » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:52 pm

So you have your lipids (triglycerides= fat) inside the capsule. They are soluble in several solvents. Hexane is good because it does not destroy oils. just dissolves them, and has a low boiling point, so it can be distilled off easily. The trick is to break the cells and get the oils out WITHOUT making what we chemists call "an intractable emulsion". Squeeze them thru a small hole? Freeze and crack? NOTE: If you whip up the mess with a stirrer, I just about guarantee that you cannot get the oily-hexane bubbles away from the water-based wet mess. Good luck lil' buddy!

Hexane is highly flammable, and can blow your house to kingdom come. Use carefully controlled electric heating mantles on your Pyrex glass distillation apparatus with a proper distillation column and a water-cooled condenser to chill the explosive vapors you make, and there is no problem. I did this for 30 years in my lab with NO PROBLEMS. This was to recover and distill "used" hexane to make it like new, with little losses. Be sure to keep stupid, unconscious smoking people far far away (...does anybody smoke cigarettes anymore?)
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Re: Right type of photobioreactor

Postby DR Johansen » Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:21 am

hogg wrote: Yes, your wrong, and yes there are some pretty competent guys with answers.
The Trouble is they speak in "Scientific gibberish".
Ok, I think I see the confusion now... maybe. Lipids is a more general term than oil. That is, oils are lipids, but not all lipids are oils.
hogg wrote:Lipids are a little capsule. The oil we want is inside the Capsule. Your diesel cant burn that Capsule, just the oil.
So far, the Hexane solvent method and the Ultrasonic method are the only two methods I know of that can be used for a small operator like me.
As you point out, some lipids are used to make cell walls and other such membranes (the capsules). The first step is to break the membranes and "release the grease"! That you do with the press (maybe) or a number of other ways, but this forum seems to like presses for small operators. After you have "released the grease", you need to seperate it from the rest of the goo. That is what the Hexane method is all about. dacarls seems to say it fairly well above. If you need more specifics, maybe he can help with that too.

hogg wrote:When I see the results of my query to the Scientists, I'll share it with y'all.
Excellent!!

It is my humble opinion, based on not much at all, that the supercritical CO2 method does both things in one step (reaches THRU the membranes and carries off the oil to where it can be collected) and MAY actually collect some of the lipid from the membranes themselves. Sure wish I knew someone with access to a SC CO2 machine.
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Re: Right type of photobioreactor

Postby hogg » Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:58 am

dacarls wrote:So you have your lipids (triglycerides= fat) inside the capsule. They are soluble in several solvents. Hexane is good because it does not destroy oils. just dissolves them, and has a low boiling point, so it can be distilled off easily. The trick is to break the cells and get the oils out WITHOUT making what we chemists call "an intractable emulsion". Squeeze them thru a small hole? Freeze and crack? NOTE: If you whip up the mess with a stirrer, I just about guarantee that you cannot get the oily-hexane bubbles away from the water-based wet mess. Good luck lil' buddy!

Hexane is highly flammable, and can blow your house to kingdom come. Use carefully controlled electric heating mantles on your Pyrex glass distillation apparatus with a proper distillation column and a water-cooled condenser to chill the explosive vapors you make, and there is no problem. I did this for 30 years in my lab with NO PROBLEMS. This was to recover and distill "used" hexane to make it like new, with little losses. Be sure to keep stupid, unconscious smoking people far far away (...does anybody smoke cigarettes anymore?)


Atta boy Decarls, we be's gittin closer.

I'll start with this. Botyrococcus braunii However, I have Chicken and Cow galore available free.
I know how to create the Algae, dry it, crush it, and from that I'll have the Grease Released!
Now....the Grease is part Lipids.
We must release the oil from the lipids or make it all burnable in a diesel which needs some pretty clean fluid.

Please please please.....lay out in layman's (man-readable)terms, how to use Hexane to get a thin burnable mixture. :)
Lots and lots of us will love you for this man-readable explanation that we mechanics can take down to the Barn and start collecting usable oil.
Be as specific as you can. Use words I don't have to look up. Remember I'm in Alabama and I can read to a degree!:)
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