Complete Evaluation of Cell Mixing and Hydrodynamic Performance of Thin-Layer Cascade Reactor
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionApplied Sciences. 2020, 10 (3), 1-15. 10.3390/app10030746
Microalgae are a great source of food and supplements as well as a potential source for the production of biofuels. However, the operational cost must be reduced to allow viable productions of bulk chemicals such as biofuels from microalgae. One approach to minimize the cost is to increase the efficiency of the photobioreactor. Photobioreactor efficiency is correlated to hydrodynamic mixing, which promotes single cell exposure to sunlight, keeps algae cells in suspension, and homogenizes the distribution of nutrients. Thus, a possible route to enhance the efficiency of the photobioreactor can be identified through an improved understanding of the mixing phenomenon. Therefore, for the current thin-layer cascade reactor, two aspects of its performance—namely, cell mixing and hydrodynamic characteristics—are evaluated under varying mass flow rates, slope angles, water depths, and aspect ratios of the channel by using computational fluid dynamics. The resulting model is validated with experimental data. Results reveal that limited cell mixing is achieved in the thin-layer cascade reactor with increased water depth and large aspect ratios. However, cell mixing is significantly increased at high mass flow rates. The increase in the mass flow rate and slope angle results in increased flow velocity and power consumption.