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Algae Test & Evaluation Pilot Facility

Major Professor:
Ronald Sims
Logan Lagoons

The AT&E Facility has been developed as a field-scale facility where outdoor research and testing is conducted that utilizes phototrophic algae-based engineered systems for algal biomass production and water quality improvement. The 10-acre facility consists of full, pilot, and bench scale growth, harvesting, nutrient recycling, and biofuel processing systems. The site also includes an on-site laboratory, an indoor facility for different harvesting applications, an enclosed building dedicated to two large (1,000 gallon each) anaerobic digestion systems, two greenhouses, and an office and machine shop.

The capacities of the large algae growth system at the facility are as follows:

  1. Full scale RABR contained within a 14,500 liter tank situated on a transportable skid allowing for on-site testing;
  2. Three Pilot scale RABR systems with each system operating within a tank of over 4,000 liters;
  3. Two ¼-acre open pond raceway bioreactors with each having a capacity of over 150,000 liters.

Each of these systems is capable of supplying and discharging required water, is equipped with sufficient electrical power and mechanical means to rotate and/or mix each system, and is instrumented to obtain photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH readings.

The laboratory for the AT&E Facility is designed for on-site testing of nutrients, algae growth conditions, algae concentrations, and algae yield (% dry weight). Nutrient samples, specifically nitrogen and phosphorus, can be processed within minutes utilizing a continuous sample processing system. The laboratory also has the capability to conduct tests for water quality. The AT&E Facility includes two 8 x 10 foot greenhouses that have access to power, temperature control, and water in order to facilitate specific research needs such as laboratory scale algae growth tests and/or biomass drying.

The site also is equipped with two 26 x 24 foot buildings designed for harvesting algae biomass, performing bench scale studies for algae growth and harvesting, and utilizing the algae biomass within two 1000 gallons each anaerobic digesters. Each building is capable of housing and operating equipment with different power, water, and heating needs. The buildings have been plumbed to enable operation during winter months. Other facility resources include office space and machine shop. The machine shop is equipped for small fabricating needs and repairs. These resources are utilized for both the AT&E Facility and the operation and maintenance of the wastewater treatment facility.