A dynamic thermal algal growth model for pilot-scale open-channel raceways

Carlos Quiroz-Arita, Myra L. Blaylock, Patricia E. Gharagozloo, Thomas H. Bradley, Thomas Dempster, John McGowen, Ryan W. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study describes the makeup of and results from a simulation consisting of a lumped thermal model integrated with a dynamic algae growth model to simulate the microalgae productivity of an open-channel raceway cultivation system. The thermal model considers the dynamic effects of weather, light absorption, convective heat transfer, radiation heat transfer, conductive heat transfer, thermal capacitance, and water control strategies. The dynamic algae growth model solves a set of ordinary differential equations consisting of growth functions dependent on incident radiation, temperature, nutrient availability, basal metabolism, and losses due to dark- and photo-respiration. Relative errors in the predicted ash-free dry weight of Nannochloropsis oceanica are 12.5%, −6.1%, and 4.4% for three separate replicates of cultivation cycles (~4.2 m2) performed at AzCATI during the ATP3 Unified Field Studies in Fall, Spring, and Summer. This research demonstrates that thermal modeling is an essential contributor to the validation of microalgae growth models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100405
JournalBioresource Technology Reports
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes



  • Algae
  • Dark-and photo-respiration
  • Dynamic
  • Lumped thermal model
  • Raceways
  • Well-mixed growth model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal

Cite this

Quiroz-Arita, C., Blaylock, M. L., Gharagozloo, P. E., Bradley, T. H., Dempster, T., McGowen, J., & Davis, R. W. (2020). A dynamic thermal algal growth model for pilot-scale open-channel raceways. Bioresource Technology Reports, 10, [100405]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biteb.2020.100405