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Keywords:

  • microalgae;
  • flat-plate photobioreactors;
  • computational fluid dynamics;
  • flashing light effect;
  • particle tracking

Abstract

Flat-plate photobioreactors (FPPBRs) are widely reported for cultivation of microalgae. In this work, a novel FPPBR mounted with inclined baffles was developed, which can make the fluid produce a “spirality” flow. The flow field and cell trajectory in the photobioreactor were investigated by using computational fluid dynamics. In addition, the cell trajectory was analyzed using a Fast Fourier transformation. The influence of height of the baffles, the angle α between the inclined baffle and fluid inlet flow direction (z), and the fluid inlet velocity on the frequency of flashing light effect and pressure drop were examined to optimize the structure parameters of the inclined baffles and operating conditions of the photobioreactor. The results showed that with inclined baffles built-in, significant swirl flow could be generated in the FPPBR. In this way, the flashing light effect for microalgal cell could also be achieved and the photosynthesis efficiency of microalgae could be promoted. In outdoor cultivation of freshwater Chlorella sp., the maximum biomass productivity of Chlorella sp. cultivated in the photobioreactor with inclined baffles was 29.94% higher than that of the photobioreactor without inclined baffles. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2013