Automated monitoring and control systems for an algae photobioreactor
There has been considerable advancement in the algae research field to move algae production for biofuels and bio-products forward to become commercially viable. However, there is one key element that humans cannot control, the natural externalities that impact production. An algae cultivation system is similar to agricultural crop farming practices. Algae are grown on an area of land for a certain time period with the aim of harvesting the biomass produced. One of the advantages of using algae biomass is that it can be used as a source of energy in the form of biofuels. Major advances in algae research and development practices have led to new knowledge about the remarkable potential of algae to serve as a sustainable source of biofuel. The challenge is to make the price of biofuels from algae cost-competitive with the price of petroleum-based fuels. The scope of this research was to design a concept for an automated system to control specific externalities and determine if integrating the system in an algae cultivation system could improve the algae biomass production process. This research required the installation and evaluation of an algae cultivation process, components selection and computer software programming for an automated system. The results from the automated system based on continuous real time monitored variables validated that the developed system contributes insights otherwise not detected from a manual measurement approach. The implications of this research may lead to technology that can be used as a base model to further improve algae cultivation systems.