Advanced scenarios studies for large scale microalgae cultivation

Microalgae are an attractive renewable source for fuel and chemicals. Algae grow using sun light and can be cultured on arid land. Large-scale algae production facilities are necessary to fulfil future demands. However, cultivation of algae for biofuel does not occur yet on a commercial scale. A competitive algae production process can be developed by using the opportunities of the environment of plants efficiently.


The aim of this PhD project is to develop methods for the design of efficient, flexible and robust algae biodiesel production systems.


In this project models have been developed for algae biomass production in open raceway ponds, flat panels and horizontal tubular photobioreactors [1, 2]. The effect oflocation, climate conditions and reactor design is taken into account. Design scenarios are applied to quantify the effect of these design variables on biomass production. These results also give insight in the complexity of the production system.

Algae production is not only limited by sunlight and other climate conditions; resources like water and carbon dioxide have to be available and transported to the productionplant. Therefore, the interaction with the environment through logistics is studied. An approach is being developed to couple the biomass production model to the logistic chain. The approach is used to determine favourable distributions of algae plants, identify critical factors in the interacting production system and gives insight in the requirements for cultivation technology, land availability and policy decisions.

Thesis projects

Within this project there are various possibilities for doing a BSc or MSc thesis. You should have followed the courses bioreactor design, modelling dynamic systems or anadvanced SCO course. If you are interested in doing a BSc or MSc thesis, feel free to contact me.


This research is performed as part of the program of Wetsus (


1. Slegers, P.M., et al., Design scenarios for flat panel photobioreactors. Journal of Applied Energy, 2011. 88(10): p. 3342-3353.

2. Slegers, P.M., manuscript in preparation.