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Bioreactor for Biorefining Feedstock Production


The production of microalgae as a feedstock for refining into biodiesel requires optimization in the design of bioreactors. This technology provides that optimization by increasing the production of algae by maximizing the presence of the distributed solar energy during daylight and also providing the use of artificial lighting during the nonavailability periods of solar energy. Gas is injected in the algal slurry at the bottom of the bioreactor and travels to the top where it is separated from the liquid. The advanced design facilitates the transmission of photosynthetically active radiation to the microalgae at the optimal level. Continuous motion of the algal slurry over as well as away from the light sources ensure the stimulation of photosynthesis along with preventing the build-up of the slurry inside the bioreactor. The transmission fibers are terminated inside the bioreactor eliminating any requirement for the use of a separate light distribution system. This helps in saving both design and construction costs. The technology also incorporates a mechanism to minimize the effect of heat dissipation in the optical fibers. Applications: The technology can have applications in the areas of production of biofuels protein/feed and nutraceuticals (health enhancing foods). It can also be utilized in processes that remediate CO2 emissions and perform carbon recycling. Biofuels are emerging as the most innovative and promising alternative to meet the global energy crisis with US as the biggest global producer. The world-wide requirement for biofuels is expected to grow at an aggressive rate of more than 12.3% from 2007 through 2013. Biodiesel production in the US has increased from 25 million gallons in 2004 to more than 450 million gallons in 2007. These figures demonstrate the huge potential market for the technology. Several countries are aiming to replace their use of conventional energy sources by the environment friendly biofuel presenting a rich opportunity for this technology. Stage of Development: The technology is undergoing testing of several algal and cyanobacterial strains for their response to various illumination temperature pH flow and CO2 levels. Researchers are currently working towards developing a pilot model of the process that can be scaled commercially. Future Development: Future development for the technology will involve the optimization of it various sub-processes that can achieve success on a commercially productive scale including finding low cost alternatives to deliver light to the algae.


1) Improvement on current bioreactor designs that can only function in the presence of solar energy. 2) Increased productivity and cost-effectiveness of the bioreactor by enabling plant operation throughout the day through the use of artificial lighting. 3) Increased productivity of the biofilm system due to the usage of algae in the slurry state. 4) Improved design of the slurry circulation system provides areas to facilitate dark reactions in the system. 5) Optimal utilization of the area of the fabric plates to maximize the amount of algae that can be grown. 6) Decreased footprint over the water reservoirs due to the vertical design of the bioreactor.

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