Publication | Scientific Journals | Biogas

Cultivation of the microalga Eustigmatos magnus in different photobioreactor geometries and subsequent anaerobic digestion of pre-treated biomass

Published 2019

Citation: Gruber-Brunhumer MR, Schöberl A, Zohar E, Koenigsberger S, Bochmann G, Uher B, Lang I, Schagerl M, Fuchs W, Drosg B. Cultivation of the microalga Eustigmatos magnus in different photobioreactor geometries and subsequent anaerobic digestion of pre-treated biomass. Biomass and Bioenergy 2019.105303.

Abstract

Microalgal biomass as a feedstock for biogas production is linked to the parameters biomass productivity and biogas yield. Besides an easy-to-use strain for anaerobic digestion, the photobioreactor (PBR) design is important. A microalgae strain selection revealed Eustigmatos magnus (SAG 36.89) as the most promising strain yielding an average of 100 mg total suspended solids (TSS) L−1 day−1. The strain was tested in cost-effective sleevebag-PBR-systems of 10 cm, 20 cm and 30 cm diameter facing the light from the front or laterally. Highest mean productivity on a volumetric basis was measured in PBRs with the lowest diameter (104 and 117 mg L−1 day−1. The highest productivity per m−2 was achieved in 10 cm PBRs with front light configuration (9.35 g TSS m−2 day−1). The lateral light configuration of 10 cm PBRs had positive aspects such as the lowest mean water demand to produce 1 kg TSS (481 L−1 kg−1) and the lowest mean energy demand for medium separation of 1 kg TSS (106 Wh). The concentrated microalgal biomass was then subjected to ultrasonication and thermal pre-treatment (90 °C and 120 °C) and tested in BMP tests. Mesophilic anaerobic mono-digestion of untreated microalgae biomass led to a methane (CH4) yield of 343 L−1 kg−1 volatile solids (VS). Thermal pre-treatment at 120 °C resulted in significantly increased CH4 yields of 430 L−1 kg−1 VS. As thermal pre-treatment can be easily installed nearby a biogas plant it could be an interesting option for AD of microalgal biomass with only little investment.

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