Modelling, control, microalge, wastewater, environtment, clean energy.
The project deals with the analysis, study and application of modeling and control strategies for the optimisation of the process of wastewater treatment and biomass production of microalgae in large scale industrial photobioreactors.The main objective is to achieve optimal work conditions that allow an efficient synergy of the combined process of optimal growth of microalgae and the wastewater treatment, trying to achieve an appropriate balance between the energy required for such a process, the injection of CO2 for the maximization of microalgae production, and the recovery of costs through the resulting products. Microalgae use nutrients from wastewater (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus), thus avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers. The appropriate combination of microalgae with waters residuals will allow to achieve an energy balance for this type of processes and, at the same time, contributing to the mitigation of emissions of gases to the environment.
It is relevant to stress that the presence of microalgae, bacteria and organic matter makes such systmes to have a highly complex and non-linear dynamics. As a result, there are different tasks of modelling and control to achieve the following main objectives of this project:
- Development and proposal of strategies of modelling, estimation and identification for the combined process of the production of microalgae and treatment of wastewater in raceway reactors.
- Development and proposal of different control strategies for the efficient production of biomass and waterwaste in order to contribute to the reduction of costs and environmental impact.
- Implementation and validation of modeling and control strategies developed in two industrial large scale raceway photobioreactors.
This proposal is the continuation of a new line of research on biomass production from microalgae cultivated in industrial photobioreactors, which has led to two previous projects of the National Research Plan projects managed by the applicant research groups. The groups involved have a strong and close collaboration through projects and joint publications, with a remarkable number of scientific papers in prestigious international journals. Furthermore, it should be noted the international scope of the project with the presence of two European researchers (Sweden and Italy) and a researcher from Australia. In the same way, the subject of the project is framed in the strategic lines of the European Union and the Spanish National Plan of Research, within of the challenges of security, food quality, productive and sustainable agricultural activity, sustainability of natural resources, marine and maritime research and marine. So, the proposal is forming part of a highly topical research line. In this sense, the achievement of the objectives would have a significant contribution in this fields and would have a real impact on the competitiveness of this kind of processes in the industrial sector. As a result, several companies and research centres have shown their interest in this proposal, such as Aqualia, Biorizon, CIESOL and the Experimental Center «Las Palmerillas» (Cajamar Foundation).