Advancing microalgae cultivation through precision temperature modeling: Achieving optimal growth with adaptive models and model predictive control

In the realm of sustainable solutions, microalgae stand out as versatile organisms with the potential to revolutionize multiple industries. From biofuels to pharmaceuticals, these microscopic powerhouses hold the promise of eco-friendly innovation. However, unlocking their full potential depends on understanding their environment, particularly the influence of temperature.

Temperature modeling, a powerful tool in this endeavor, offers precise control over microalgae growth. At its core, this technique is a mathematical representation of how temperature variations impact microalgae behavior. It provides the means to predict and control their growth with precision.

In controlled environments like raceway ponds, temperature plays a critical role. These large, shallow pools of water serve as the platform for microalgae to harness sunlight and nutrients for their growth. Maintaining the optimal temperature is crucial for achieving this balance.

Temperature modeling involves the processing of data and mathematical equations. It incorporates inputs such as weather data, such as sunlight intensity and air temperature, as well as pond-specific details like dimensions and depth. The model then determines the ideal temperature for microalgae growth.

Why is this endeavor important? Microalgae, though tiny, hold immense potential as biofactories. They can produce various valuable substances, from biofuels to pharmaceutical ingredients. However, they require a tailored environment, starting with precise temperature control, to operate efficiently. The power of this model lies in its adaptability. It can transition seamlessly between different ponds, accommodating various sizes and environmental conditions.

To achieve this precision, the adaptive model undergoes an identification process. This involves calibrating the model using a small dataset spanning just four days. The model’s adaptability extends beyond raceway ponds; it can seamlessly predict temperature in different cultivation systems, such as tubular reactors, and even within a greenhouse.

This adaptability comes from the model’s underlying principles. It focuses on the most critical aspects of temperature dynamics, emphasizing factors such as radiation, evaporation, and convection. By targeting on these fundamental components, the model streamlines the prediction process, making it more agile and responsive.

Moreover, this temperature model is not an isolated achievement. It will serve as a cornerstone in the implementation of Model Predictive Control (MPC). MPC optimizes processes by predicting future behavior and adjusting control inputs accordingly. By incorporating the temperature model, MPC will fine-tune microalgae cultivation systems to maximize productivity and sustainability.

MPC’s benefits are far-reaching. It enables real-time adjustments based on changing conditions, enhancing efficiency and reducing resource consumption.

In conclusion, the integration of precision temperature modeling and Model Predictive Control represents a significant step toward sustainable microalgae cultivation.

By Ali Gharib

Figure 1. Temperature prediction of the adaptive heat transfer model using a dataset of 4 days.