Design process of an area-efficient photobioreactor

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This article describes the design process of the Green Solar Collector (GSC), an area-efficient photobioreactor for the outdoor cultivation of microalgae. The overall goal has been to design a system in which all incident sunlight on the area covered by the reactor is delivered to the algae at such intensities that the light energy can be efficiently used for biomass formation. A statement of goals is formulated and constraints are specified to which the GSC needs to comply. Specifications are generated for a prototype which form and function achieve the stated goals and satisfy the specified constraints. This results in a design in which sunlight is captured into vertical plastic light guides. Sunlight reflects internally in the guide and eventually scatters out of the light guide into flat-panel photobioreactor compartments. Sunlight is focused on top of the light guides by dual-axis positioning of linear Fresnel lenses. The shape and material of the light guide is such that light is maintained in the guides when surrounded by air. The bottom part of a light guide is sandblasted to obtain a more uniform distribution of light inside the bioreactor compartment and is triangular shaped to ensure the efflux of all light out of the guide. Dimensions of the guide are such that light enters the flat-panel photobioreactor compartment at intensities that can be efficiently used by the biomass present. The integration of light capturing, transportation, distribution and usage is such that high biomass productivities per area can be achieved
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-415
JournalMarine Biotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • light
  • system
  • solar


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