MSc Thesis: Minimising Cost of Algae Production by Optimising the Lighting Arrangement


REYKJAVIK, June 26 - MSc in Sustainable Energy candidate, Jessica Nicole Ritchie, successfully defended her master's thesis where she minimised the cost of algae production for a setup arrange in collaboration with Algaennovation by optimising the specific lighting arrangement. Jessica's research was supervised by Hlynur Stefansson from Reykjavik University and Ari Ingimundarsson from Algaennovation, who operate at Hellisheidavirkjun.


Jessica starts by stating that as a natural carbon capturing system, algae has the potential for a major role in fighting climate change. Jessica's industrial collaborator, Algaennovation, is a company operational at Hellisheidavirkjun (a geothermal power station in Iceland) who is establishing an innovative technology for cultivation of Omega-3 and protein rich microalgae, including Spirulina. 

As Jessica explains, expansion and increasing production calls for techno-economical optimisation. Spacing between algae cultivation production units and lighting arrangements determine the production size, affecting building costs, and lighting determines algae production, affecting operation costs. As such, Jessica optimised the number of lights selected for one production unit and the distance between the lights and the production unit.

Jessica worked with Algaennovation to minimise production costs while maximising biomass output by optimising the lighting arrangements. She performed testing using two types of lights and multiple configurations given by Algaennovation. Using Matlab, Jessica analysed the data to predict an optimal lighting arrangement that minimises costs while maximising algae production. Using Brute Force optimisation, her model was able to determine a feasible cost solution space given specific constraints. 

Jessica concluded that from the feasible cost solution space, analysis can be done to determine the optimal lighting arrangement that minimises production costs.

Congratulations Jessica for an excellent thesis!


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