Microalgae cultivation in air-lift reactors: modelling biomass yield and growth rate as a function of mixing frequency

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Abstract

The slow development of microalgal biotechnology stems from the failure in the design of large-scale photobioreactors where light energy is efficiently utilized. Due to the light gradient inside the reactor and depending on the mixing properties, algae are subjected to certain light/dark cycles where the light period is characterized by a light gradient. These light/dark cycles will determine productivity and biomass yield on light energy. Air-lift reactors can be used for microalgae cultivation and medium-frequency light/dark cycles will be found in these systems. Light/dark cycles are associated with two basic parameters: first, the light fraction, i.e., the ratio between the light period and the cycle time and second, the frequency of the light/dark cycle. In the present work, light/dark cycles found in air-lift reactors were simulated taking into account the light gradient during the light period. The effect of medium-frequency cycle time (10-100 s) and light fraction (0.1-1) on growth rate and biomass yield on light energy of the microalgae Dunaliella tertiolecta was studied. The biomass yield and growth rates were mainly affected by the light fraction, while cycle time had little influence. Response surface methodology was used and a statistical model describing the effect of light fraction and cycle time on growth rate and biomass yield on light energy was developed. The use of the model as a reactor design criterion is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-179
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Volume82
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Keywords

  • light-dark cycles
  • chlamydomonas-reinhardtii
  • airlift photobioreactors
  • chlorophyll fluorescence
  • marine-phytoplankton
  • porphyridium sp
  • algal cultures
  • photoinhibition
  • biotechnology

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