Algaesim: A model for integrated algal biofuel production and wastewater treatment

Ivy L.C. Drexler, Caryssa Joustra, Ana Prieto, Robert Bair, Daniel H. Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


AlgaeSim, a dynamic multiple-systems (C, N, P) mass balance model, was developed to explore the potential for algae biomass production from wastewater by coupling two photobioreactors into the main treatment train at a municipal wastewater resource recovery facility (WRRF) in Tampa, Florida. The scoping model examined the synergy between algae cultivation and wastewater treatment through algal growth and substrate removal kinetics, as well as through macroeconomic analyses of biomass conversion to bioproducts. Sensitivity analyses showed that biomass production is strongly dependent on Monod variables and harvesting regime, with sensitivity changing with growth phase. Profitability was sensitive to processing costs and market prices of products. Under scenarios based on current market conditions and typical algae production, AlgaeSim shows that a WRRF can potentially generate significant profit if algae are processed for biodiesel, biogas, or fertilizer. Wastewater resource recovery facilities could similarly save on operating costs resulting from the reduction in aeration (for nitrification) and chemicals (for denitrification).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-176
Number of pages14
JournalWater Environment Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Algae economics
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Mass balance
  • Monod kinetics
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorous
  • Process modeling


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