Design scenarios for flat panel photobioreactors

P.M. Slegers, R.H. Wijffels, G. van Straten, A.J.B. van Boxtel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

149 Citations (Scopus)


Evaluation of the potential of algae production for biofuel and other products at various locations throughout the world requires assessment of algae productivity under varying light conditions and different reactor layouts. A model was developed to predict algae biomass production in flat panel photobioreactors using the interaction between light and algae growth for the algae species Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Thalassiosira pseudonana. The effect of location, variable sunlight and reactor layout on biomass production in single standing and parallel positioned flat panels was considered. Three latitudes were studied representing the Netherlands, France and Algeria. In single standing reactors the highest yearly biomass production is achieved in Algeria. During the year biomass production fluctuates the most in the Netherlands, while it is almost constant in Algeria. Several combinations of path lengths and biomass concentrations can result in the same optimal biomass production. The productivity in parallel place flat panels is strongly influenced by shading and diffuse light penetration between the panels. Panel orientation has a large effect on productivity and at higher latitudes the difference between north–south and east–west orientation may go up to 50%.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3342-3353
JournalApplied Energy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • life-cycle assessment
  • phaeodactylum-tricornutum
  • marine-phytoplankton
  • biodiesel production
  • microalgae
  • biofuels
  • light
  • model


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