Horizontal or vertical photobioreactors? How to improve microalgae photosynthetic efficiency

M. Cuaresma, M.G.J. Janssen, C. Vilchez, R.H. Wijffels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


The productivity of a vertical outdoor photobioreactor was quantitatively assessed and compared to a horizontal reactor. Daily light cycles in southern Spain were simulated and applied to grow the microalgae Chlorella sorokiniana in a flat panel photobioreactor. The maximal irradiance around noon differs from 400µmolphotonsm(-2)s(-1) in the vertical position to 1800µmolphotonsm(-2)s(-1) in the horizontal position. The highest volumetric productivity was achieved in the simulated horizontal position, 4gkg culture(-1)d(-1). The highest photosynthetic efficiency was found for the vertical simulation, 1.3g of biomass produced per mol of PAR photons supplied, which compares favorably to the horizontal position (0.85gmol(-1)) and to the theoretical maximal yield (1.8gmol(-1)). These results prove that productivity per unit of ground area could be greatly enhanced by placing the photobioreactors vertically
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5129-5137
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • outdoor mass cultivation
  • chlorophyll fluorescence
  • tubular photobioreactor
  • muriellopsis sp
  • chlorella
  • light
  • temperature
  • culture
  • productivity
  • irradiance

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