This project investigates the effects of sparger geometry and placement on bubble and fluid flow patterns and convective heat transfer within a column photobioreactor (PBR) using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Experimental and computational studies have been completed that focused on the hydrodynamics and heat transfer within a rectangular column photobioreactor (34.29 cm long × 15.25 cm wide × 34.29 cm tall) with a single sparger located at the center of its base (33.02 cm × 1.27 cm) running lengthwise. This study extends previous work by investigating the flow patterns and heat transfer effects due to full bottom sparger or porous sparger. The gas bubbles and the water-based media within the photobioreactor are modeled using the Lagrangian-Eulerian approach. A low Reynolds k-Epsilon turbulence model is used to predict near-wall flow patterns. A flat surface photobioreactor is used to achieve sufficient light penetration into the system. The main interaction forces between the bubbles and the media, including drag forces, added mass forces, and lift forces are considered. The overarching goal of this research is to produce biofuels and bioproducts through the improved design of column PBRs used for microalgae production. An important factor in designing photobioreactors is the appropriate selection of sparger geometry and placement. The sparger governs the bubble size distribution and gas holdup. These factors in turn influence flow pattern, effective interfacial area, rates of mass transfer, heat transfer, and mixing. It is hypothesized that increasing the sparger width will improve uniformity of bubble distribution as well as mixing. Despite its importance, optimizing the sparger geometry and placement in PBRs for microalgae production is still largely not understood. In this study, the simulation’s results are presented for various spargers, which can be helpful in designing appropriate sparger geometry and proper placement for increased microalgae production.

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