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Development and Validation of a Computational Fluid Dynamics Model of Pond Temperature and Algal Growth

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131598901,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   J L Drewry, C Y Choi
Keywords:   Algae biofuels computational fluid dynamics (CFD)

Abstract. In order to cultivate algae and produce biofuels economically and in an environmentally friendly manner, steps must be taken to optimize growth so as to generate high yields within a given set of environmental and design restraints. Developing and validating computer models capable of simulating algal growth in open ponds should lead to tools that can rapidly, accurately and cheaply predict growth rates within a wide range of scenarios. Accordingly, in this study, a biologically based model was implemented into computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software and validated against an existing algal growth model. In addition, a sensitivity analysis was conducted to determine the statistical significance of the model’s parameters. The utility of the model was demonstrated by presenting a number of scenarios of algal growth under various weather conditions. The CFD outcomes will elucidate and quantify field-scale algae production in conjunction with the complex sets of variables that govern heat, mass, and flow patterns within the pond, and the outcomes should also provide spatiotemporal data pertaining to algal concentration and water quality variables in addition to light, temperature, and flow distributions within the pond.

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