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AlgaeSim: A Model for Integrated Algal Biofuel Production and Wastewater Treatment

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AlgaeSim, a dynamic multiple-systems (C, N, P) mass balance model, was developed to explore the potential for algae biomass production from wastewater by coupling two photobioreactors into the main treatment train at a municipal wastewater resource recovery facility (WRRF) in Tampa, Florida. The scoping model examined the synergy between algae cultivation and wastewater treatment through algal growth and substrate removal kinetics, as well as through macroeconomic analyses of biomass conversion to bioproducts. Sensitivity analyses showed that biomass production is strongly dependent on Monod variables and harvesting regime, with sensitivity changing with growth phase. Profitability was sensitive to processing costs and market prices of products. Under scenarios based on current market conditions and typical algae production, AlgaeSim shows that a WRRF can potentially generate significant profit if algae are processed for biodiesel, biogas, or fertilizer. Wastewater resource recovery facilities could similarly save on operating costs resulting from the reduction in aeration (for nitrification) and chemicals (for denitrification).

Keywords: STELLA; algae economics; carbon dioxide; mass balance; monod kinetics; nitrogen; phosphorous; process modeling

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2014

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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