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May 2012: Energy Created from Pond Scum: Photo Bioreactor for Algae Production

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 2012: Energy Created from Pond Scum: Photo Bioreactor for Algae Production

Oil-rich biomass derived from algae could provide a green alternative to fossil fuel. Global research projects algae fuel to be an efficient and minimal-impact biofuel option for cars and planes. Among the fastest growing plants in the world and with about 50% of their weight in oil, algae convert low-energy components into energy-rich biomass. To date, 220 macroalgae and 15 microalgae species have proven suitable for commercial use.

The German engineering and consulting company GICON, in collaboration with the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, has successfully developed a scalable photo bioreactor for microalgae production for outdoor use and with a specific process control. The use of new materials and GICON's extensive experience with photovoltaic systems allow for a service life of more than 10 years. The flexible tubular double-wall hose system ensures accurate temperature control for optimal growth during operation. Based on silicone materials in combination with a new pulsation principle, bio-fouling is kept at a minimum, resulting in production with very limited contamination in a closed system. Biomass productivities of about 1 g/L/d (dry weight) and concentrations of 10 g/L (dry weight) can be achieved based on an input of approximately 50 W/m³ of electric energy. The biogenic design of the reactor system allows it to adjust to different geographic areas and local insulation conditions through the variation of reactor and tube geometries. Therefore, in addition to high surface area productivity and efficiency, the system provides the best possible flexibility.