Thumbnail Image

Modeling and Simulation of Photobioreactors with Computational Fluid Dynamics—A Comprehensive Review

Luzi, Giovanni; McHardy, Christopher

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) have been frequently applied to model the growth conditions in photobioreactors, which are affected in a complex way by multiple, interacting physical processes. We review common photobioreactor types and discuss the processes occurring therein as well as how these processes have been considered in previous CFD models. The analysis reveals that CFD models of photobioreactors do often not consider state-of-the-art modeling approaches. As a comprehensive photobioreactor model consists of several sub-models, we review the most relevant models for the simulation of fluid flows, light propagation, heat and mass transfer and growth kinetics as well as state-of-the-art models for turbulence and interphase forces, revealing their strength and deficiencies. In addition, we review the population balance equation, breakage and coalescence models and discretization methods since the predicted bubble size distribution critically depends on them. This comprehensive overview of the available models provides a unique toolbox for generating CFD models of photobioreactors. Directions future research should take are also discussed, mainly consisting of an extensive experimental validation of the single models for specific photobioreactor geometries, as well as more complete and sophisticated integrated models by virtue of the constant increase of the computational capacity.
Published in: Energies, 10.3390/en15113966, MDPI