A novel cyclic flow photobioreactor (PBR) for the capture and recycle of CO2 using microalgae was designed and deployed at a coal-fired power plant (Duke Energy’s East Bend Station). The PBR was operated continuously during the period May–September 2015, during which algae productivity of typically 0.1–0.2 g/(L day) was obtained. Maximum CO2 capture efficiency was achieved during peak sunlight hours, the largest recorded CO2 emission reduction corresponding to a value of 81 % (using a sparge time of 5 s/min). On average, CO2 capture efficiency during daylight hours was 44 %. The PBR at East Bend Station also served as a secondary scrubber for NOx and SOx, removing on average 41.5 % of the NOx and 100 % of the SOx from the flue gas. The effect of solar availability and self-shading on a rudimentary digital model of the cyclic flow PBR was examined using Autodesk Ecotect Analysis software. Initial results suggest that this is a promising tool for the optimization of PBR layout with respect to the utilization of available solar radiation.

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Published in Applied Petrochemical Research, v. 6, issue 3, p. 279-293.

© The Author(s) 2016

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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The Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence, Duke Energy and the University of Kentucky are thanked for financial support.