Document Type : Research Paper
Environmental Research Institute, MaREI Centre, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
School of Engineering, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
Studies attempting to optimise photosynthetic biogas upgrading by simultaneous investigation of the bubble column-photobioreactor setup have experienced considerable variability in results and conclusions. To identify the sources of such variation, this work quantitatively compared seven design factors (superficial gas velocity; liquid to gas flow rate (L/G) ratio; empty bed residence time; liquid inlet pH; liquid inlet alkalinity; temperature; and algal concentration) using the L16 Taguchi orthogonal array as a screening design of experiment. Assessments were performed using the signal to noise (S/N) ratio on the performance of CO2 removal (CO2 removal efficiency, CO2 absorption rate, and overall CO2 mass transfer coefficient) and O2 stripping (O2 concentration in biomethane and O2 flow rate in biomethane). Results showed that pH and L/G ratio were the most critical design factors. Temperature and gas residence times had minimal impact on the biomethane composition. The interactive effect between pH and L/G ratio was the most impactful, followed by the interactive effects between superficial gas velocity and L/G ratio and pH on CO2 removal efficiency. The impact of L/G ratio, algal concentration, and pH (in that order of impact) caused up to a 90% variation in oxygen content in biomethane. However, algal concentration had a diminishing role as the L/G ratio increased. Using only the statistically significant main effects and interactions, the biomethane composition (CO2% and O2%) was predicted with over 95% confidence through regression equations for superficial gas velocity up to 0.2 cm/s.
- Multiple factors and their interaction influence photosynthetic biogas upgrading.
- pH and liquid to gas flow (L/G) ratio affect CO2 removal the most.
- Interaction between pH and L/G ratio has the highest influence on CO2 removal.
- L/G ratio, followed by algal concentration has the highest influence on O2 stripping.
- Bubble column operation predicted to produce grid quality biomethane.