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Modeling and Optimization of CO2 Fixation using Microalgae Cultivated in Oil Sands Process Water Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Kasiri, Sepideh
Supervisor and department
Prasad, Vinay (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Ulrich, Ania (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Bhartiya, Sharad (Chemical Engineering of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay)
Burrell, Robert (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Liu, Yang (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Mccaffrey, William (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Sauvageau, Dominic (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
Process Control
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Biological fixation of CO2 using microalgae is a potential CO2 reduction strategy which can be applied to the oil sands operations in Alberta. These operations also produce large amounts of oil sands process water (OSPW), which can act as a growth medium for the microalgae. In this thesis, three different microalgae: Botryococcus braunii, Chlorella pyrenoidosa and Chlorella kessleri were investigated for their ability to grow in OSPW, and to uptake CO2. Also, the effect of phosphate, nitrate, CO2 concentrations and light intensity were studied using a fractional two-level and a full two-level factorial designs. These investigations eliminated Botryococcus braunii as it cannot grow in OSPW, and demonstrated that Chlorella kessleri has a higher CO2 uptake rate than Chlorella pyrenoidosa. Moreover, CO2 concentration, light intensity and phosphate concentration proved to have the strongest effects (in that order) on the growth and CO2 uptake rate of Chlorella kessleri. To make biological fixation of CO2 economically competitive compared to other CO2 capture techniques, it is necessary to optimize CO2 fixation rate and operate the algal culture at the optimal process conditions. Response surface methodology (RSM) was also used to develop statistical models for the CO2 uptake rate and specific growth rate of Chlorella kessleri. The quadratic models developed were used to determine the optimal sets of CO2 concentration, phosphate concentration and light intensity for CO2 uptake rate and specific growth rate in batch operation. A multi-objective optimization technique was then used to maximize the CO2 uptake rate and specific growth rate simultaneously. Moreover, to have a better understanding of microalgal dynamic behaviour, data generated using a central composite experimental design (CCD) with varying light intensity, CO2 and phosphate concentration was used to develop a mathematical model that describes the kinetics of algal growth and CO2, phosphate, nitrate and ammonium uptake rate of Chlorella kessleri cultivated in OSPW. This nonlinear dynamic model was used to determine the optimal CO2 concentration, phosphate concentration and light intensity for CO2 uptake and algal growth over a period of time in a batch culture using a multi-objective optimization technique to maximize CO2 fixation and algal growth simultaneously. Finally, a lab-scale closed raceway photobioreactor was designed and assembled for cultivation of Chlorella kessleri in OSPW with the aim of combining CO2 capture and algal production. A fed-batch model describing the dynamics of microalgae growth and CO2, phosphate and ammonium uptake rate was developed based on the modification of a previously developed model for batch cultures, and was successfully validated against experimental data. The CO2 uptake rate and algal growth can be maximized by properly manipulating the CO2 and phosphate concentrations and availability and intensity of light. A model-based optimization method was used to calculate the optimal feeding strategies for CO2, phosphate and light intensity.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Kasiri, S., Prasad, V., Ulrich, A., 2015. Strain and factor selection for carbon dioxide fixation using microalgae cultivated in oil sands process water. Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, in press (DOI: 10.1002/cjce.22055).Kasiri, S., Abdulsalam, S., Ulrich, A., Prasad, V., 2015. Optimization of CO2 fixation by Chlorella kessleri using response surface methodology. Chemical Engineering Science, in press.Kasiri, S., Ulrich, A., Prasad, V., 2015. Kinetic modeling and optimization of carbon dioxide fixation using microalgae cultivated in oil sands process water (submitted).

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