This paper addresses issues of flow field optimization for a water raceway which is used to grow algae for biofuels. An open channel raceway is the typical facility to grow algae in medium to large scales. The algae growth rate in a raceway is affected by conditions of temperature, nutrients, and sunlight intensity etc. These conditions are essentially associated with the fluid mixing in the flow field. Good flow mixing at low consumption of pumping power for the water flow is desirable for an economic algal growth facility. A novel design of an open channel raceway for medium- and large-scale algae growth field has been proposed by the authors previously, which is called High Velocity Algae Raceway Integrated Design (ARID-HV). Optimization analysis using CFD and experimental visualization has been applied to a table-sized ARID-HV test model with various geometries of dams and their spacing in the system. CFD results and flow visualization allow us to understand the flow mixing in the entire raceway. Data is also processed to show the statistics of the locations of ‘fluid particles’ at different height and time period during one flow path. Different flow field designs were thus compared quantitatively based on this statistics according to the understanding that the “tumbling times” of fluid particles at bottom/top of the water is tightly related to the growth rate of algae.

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