PhD Offer – Integration of microalgal culture in its host building
PhD subject: Microalgae-based processes as a solution to support sustainable access to food, energy, and water in urban centers.
Fields : Chemical engineering, bioprocess, Process modeling
Supervision : Jeremy Pruvost (PR, Université de Nantes), Yves Andres (PR, IMT-Atlantique), Ghozlane Fleury (PR, Université de Nantes)
– GEPEA UMR CNRS 6144
– LPPL EA-4638
University : Université de Nantes, IMT-Atlantique
Doctoral school : SPI
Funding : DISCUS project (International Research Partnerships – Initiative NEXT)
Context of the PhD:
The world population is growing and rapidly shifting toward greater urbanization posing major concerns and challenges with respect to environmental sustainability. For example, food production has been relegated almost exclusively to rural areas, resulting in increased energy consumption and CO2 emission to cover long travel distances to deliver food to city dwellers. In addition, the high density of buildings in city centers results in an urban heat island effect, whereby solar radiation gets trapped among the buildings leading to substantial rise in ambient temperatures.
This results in additional energy consumption by the buildings’ inefficient air conditioning systems. Moreover, with (i) world population reaching 9 billion people, (ii) arable land availability per capita decreasing, and (iii) climate
change impacting water cycling and agriculture, societies are realizing that the complex problems of providing sustainable supplies of food, energy, and water to growing cities are inherently inseparable. Microalgae are emerging as a valuable new organic feedstock for an array of applications ranging from food to biofuels. They can be cultivated in vertical flat-panel photobioreactors which can be integrated into building facades. This allows using large solar illuminated surfaces from building facades for vegetal biomass production in urban environment.
Aim of the PhD:
The aim of the PhD thesis is to investigate the integration of microalgal culture in its host building, considering both technical and social issues of the setting of such a novel (bio)process.
This will be mainly conducted through the setting of a system modelling approach led at the building scale. The original combination with microalgal culture opens indeed various optimization opportunities. For example, microalgal photosynthesis can be used to fix the CO2 contained in flue gas emitted from the building (gas burners for heating water for example) or to significantly reduce energy consumption for thermal regulation of both photobioreactors and building1. Such optimisation requests an accurate modelling of the overall building metabolism and its connection to microalgae needs. The aim of the model will be to represent all possible interactions including (such as energy, water, and available chemical nutrients in gas and liquid wastes from the building) so as to investigate the possibility to create mutual benefits for both systems with appropriate and efficient integration of exchange loops. Insofar as such a technology will be integrated into the habitat, societal issues related to the acceptability of this solution will also be considered with the aim to prepare a successful future implantation of the technology. This will be based on an analysis of the benefits / harms felt by the building users. The ultimate goal will be to propose integration schemes based on technoeconomic, environmental as well as societal decision criteria.
DISCUS international project
The PhD will be conducted in the framework of the DISCUS project. This international project bring together teams, based in Nantes (France) and in Los Angeles (University of California Los Angeles) so as to develop innovative, integrated, and sustainable solutions addressing the critical interdependence among food, energy, and water in urban systems. Both cities are have similar population density ranging between 3,000 (Los Angeles) and 4,500 (Nantes) people/km2, but they differ from urban scales, regulation frameworks, as well as economic and social acceptance. This international collaboration will give the opportunity to compare challenges and opportunities within those two countries.
Location of the PhD thesis
The thesis will be mainly located at the GEPEA laboratory (www.gepea.fr) in Nantes and Saint-Nazaire.
Several stays at UCLA in Los Angeles will be made during the thesis.
– The candidate must have a very good level of English.
– Modeling approaches.
– Heat and Mass transfer
– Water quality measurement
Please send CV and motivation letter at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Pruvost, J., Le Gouic, B., Lepine, O., Legrand, J., Le Borgne, F. 2016. Microalgae culture in building-integrated
photobioreactors: biomass production modelling and energetic analysis. Chemical Engineering Journal, 284, 850-