Evaluation of flow mixing in an ARID-HV algal raceway using statistics of temporal and spatial distribution of fluid particles

Ben Xu, Peiwen Li, Peter Waller, Michael Huesemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper analyzes and evaluates the flow mixing in an open channel algal raceway for biofuel production. The flow mixing governs the frequency of how algae cells are exposed to sunlight, due to the fluid movement between the surface and the bottom of the algal raceway, thereby affecting algal growth rate. In this work, we investigated the flow mixing performance in a table-sized model of the High Velocity Algae Raceway Integrated Design (ARID-HV). Various geometries of the raceway channels and dams were considered in both the CFD analysis and experimental flow visualization. In the CFD simulation, the pathlines of fluid particles were analyzed to obtain the distribution of the number of times that particles passed across a critical water depth, Dc, defined as a cycle count. In addition, the distribution of the time period fraction that the fluid particles stayed in the zones above and below Dc was recorded. Such information was used to evaluate the flow mixing in the raceway. The CFD evaluation of the flow mixing was validated using experimental flow visualization, which showed a good qualitative agreement with the numerical results. In conclusion, this CFD-based evaluation methodology is recommended for flow field optimization for open channel algal raceways, as well as for other engineering applications in which flow mixing is an important concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-39
Number of pages13
JournalAlgal Research
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Algae raceway
  • CFD
  • Flow mixing evaluation
  • Fluid particles
  • Statistics
  • Temporal and spatial distributions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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