Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Byard Wood, Robert Spall


Byard Wood


Robert Spall


Ronald Sims


Algae-derived biodiesel is currently under investigation as a suitable alternative to traditional fossil-fuels. Though it possesses many favorable characteristics, algae remains prohibitively expensive to mass produce and distribute. The most economical means of growing algae are large-scale open pond raceways. These, however, suffer from low culture densities; this fact impacts the cost directly through diminished productivity, as well as indirectly by raising costs due to the necessity of dewatering low culture density raceway effluent. Algae, as a photosynthetic organism, achieves higher culture densities when sufficient light is provided. In open ponds this can be accomplished by frequently cycling algae to the raceway surface. The current work examined delta wing vortex generators as a means of instigating this cycling motion. In particular the impact of spacing and angle of attack was analyzed. These vortex generators were found to significantly increase vertical mixing when placed in a series, developing precisely the motion desired. Their impact on power requirements was also examined. Specifically it was shown that increases in spacing and decreases in angle of attack result in lower power consumption. It was demonstrated that the most efficient mixing generation is achieved by larger spacings and smaller angles of attack. The impact that these devices had on raceway turbulence as measured by dissipation rate was also investigated and compared to published values for algae growth. Raceways were found to be significantly more turbulent than standard algae environments, and adding delta wings increased these levels further.




This work made publicly available electronically on September 20, 2012.