June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Biological & Agricultural
12.309.1 - 12.309.9
Biodiesel Algal Bioreactors as Educational Projects: Engineering Factors and a Case Study of Estimation. Abstract:
Two experimental closed-system bioreactors that produce algae for biodiesel are described, along with a discussion of the basic requirements for algae growth. The reactors were built by students and faculty, and are producing algae in support of research grants. For one of the reactors, detailed cost and scheduling data was collected, allowing careful comparison with initial estimates. The case provides a useful example that illustrates the inaccuracies of textbook estimating techniques, in some circumstances.
Algae is an alternative and advantageous source of biomass for biodiesel production, with a realistic potential per-acre yield of perhaps 200 barrels per acre per year, well beyond that of competing crops. The same algae crop can produce carotenoids as a by-product, enhancing its financial attractiveness. Because inputs include carbon dioxide and farm waste, algae production can mitigate pollution. Algae can be produced in open ponds or in continuous flow closed systems. Closed systems will prove more productive, but they are also more costly and they present different technical challenges.
Figure 1: Algae seeded into a full bioreactor tank.
These systems are not particularly complex, but they do pose challenging and educationally useful engineering problems. Efficient algal production requires environmental control of temperature, CO2 and pH levels, nutrients, aeration and mixing, and light. Design and construction of a reactor that maintains optimal environmental conditions and resists corrosion poses standard engineering problems that engineering students can successfully work through, with a sense of real accomplishment. However, the real challenge for development of algal
Post, A., & Hu, Q., & Sommerfeld, M. (2007, June), Biodiesel Algal Bioreactors As Educational Projects: Engineering Factors And A Case Study Of Estimation Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1978
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015