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Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering

Print version ISSN 0104-6632On-line version ISSN 1678-4383

Abstract

SILVA, C. E. de Farias; GRIS, B.  and  BERTUCCO, A.. SIMULATION OF MICROALGAL GROWTH IN A CONTINUOUS PHOTOBIOREACTOR WITH SEDIMENTATION AND PARTIAL BIOMASS RECYCLING. Braz. J. Chem. Eng. [online]. 2016, vol.33, n.4, pp.773-781. ISSN 0104-6632.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0104-6632.20160334s20150016.

Microalgae are considered as promising feedstocks for the third generation of biofuels. They are autotrophic organisms with high growth rate and can stock an enormous quantity of lipids (about 20 - 40% of their dried cellular weight). This work was aimed at studying the cultivation of Scenedesmus obliquus in a two-stage system composed of a photobioreactor and a settler to concentrate and partially recycle the biomass as a way to enhance the microalgae cellular productivity. It was attempted to specify by simulation and experimental data a relationship between the recycling rate, kinetic parameters of microalgal growth and photobioreactor operating conditions. Scenedesmus obliquus cells were cultivated in a lab-scale flat-plate reactor, homogenized by aeration, and running in continuous flow with a residence time of 1.66 day. Experimental data for the microalgal growth were used in a semi-empirical simulation model. The best results were obtained for Fw=0.2FI, when R = 1 and kd = 0 and 0.05 day-1, with the biomass production in the reactor varying between 8 g L -1 and 14 g L-1, respectively. The mathematical model fitted to the microalgal growth experimental data was appropriate for predicting the efficiency of the reactor in producing Scenedesmus obliquus cells, establishing a relation between cellular productivity and the minimum recycling rate that must be used in the system.

Keywords : Continuous photobioreactor; Scenedesmus obliquus; Recovering; Sedimentation; Recycling rate; Downstream.

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