Research Projects and Publications

Minimising Cost of Algae Production by Optimizing the Lighting Arrangement

Economics, Policy and Business

Author: Jessica Nicole Ritchie
Supervisors: Ari Ingimundarsson and Hlynur Stefansson


As a natural carbon capturing system, algae can play a major role in fighting climate change. Algaennovation, a company operational at the Hellisheidi, Iceland power station, is establishing an innovative technology for cultivation of Omega-3 and protein rich microalgae, including Spirulina. 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. Thus, the variables being optimised are the number of lights selected for one production unit and the distance between the lights and the production unit. This thesis works with Algaennovation to minimise production costs while maximising biomass output by optimising the lighting arrangements. The testing is done using two types of lights and multiple configurations given by Algaennovation. Using Matlab, the data is used to predict an optimal lighting arrangement that minimises costs while maximising algae production. Using Brute Force optimisation, the model is able to determine a feasible cost solution space given specific constraints. It is concluded that from the feasible cost solution space, analysis can be done to determine the optimal lighting arrangement that minimises production costs.