RWE’s revolutionary large scale bioreactor, the RWE Photobioreactor, is at the heart of the project. This patent pending bioreactor consists of three primary components: a vertical pond, automated process control equipment, and harvesting equipment.
The vertical pond system employed uses 4’ wide by 6’ high by 3’ thick panels designed by our process control engineers to have specific characteristics of light penetration and flow to maximize the algae growth. The panels are vertically situated in a “rack” design to facilitate quick installation with uniquely designed piping headers.
The automation of the system consists of specific instrumentation, valves, algorithms, and control parameters designed by RWE engineers as part of RWE’s patent pending intellectual property. The system design allows for mass production, low cost, and easy assembly. Our unique system circulates the water, nutrients, and CO2 required to grow the algae through the tank and panels. Several instruments in the system monitor pH, temperature, and other control variables. Automated valves react based on the information provided by the instruments to adjust the control parameters, i.e., temperature, nutrient levels and pH balance.
When the algae are ready to harvest, automated valves open and close sending the algae to a prescreen process where the moisture is reduced to ~ 20%. The semi-wet algae is then pumped to a holding tank for pick-up or piped to a final screen, dried further (if necessary) and, finally, to an oil processing plant.
Mass Operational Control / Scalability
RWE has an innovative and efficient method for regulating our system. The entire process is controlled via a computerized system with proprietary software and a proprietary hardware configuration while an “Operator Interface” touch screen provides the operator with diagnostics and total control of the process. This graphic interface resides on computers located in the dedicated electrical/operator building per each 10 acres of algae farms. The electrical/operator building houses the electrical equipment to power the algae pumps, instruments, and heating/cooling system, as well as a computer with display allowing us to operate and account for trend/historical information including temperature, pH, and control information.
The Operator Interface allows an individual to select between automatic or manual control of the production process (i.e. open/close valves, turn pumps off & on, perform manual harvests or automatic harvests, etc.). It can also be operated via the Internet with the appropriate pass codes, ensuring that only authorized persons can access the system.
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