Microalgal triacylglycerides production in outdoor batch-operated tubular PBRs

Giulia Benvenuti*, Rouke Bosma, Anne J. Klok, Fang Ji, Packo P. Lamers, Maria J. Barbosa, René H. Wijffels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Microalgal triacylglycerides (TAGs) are a promising sustainable feedstock for the biofuel, chemical and food industry. However, industrial production of microalgal products for commodity markets is not yet economically viable, largely because of low microalgal productivity. The latter is strictly dependent on initial-biomass-specific (IBS) light availability (i.e. ratio of light impinging on reactor ground area divided by initial biomass concentration per ground area). This study investigates the effect of IBS-light availability on batch TAG production for Nannochloropsis sp. cultivated in two outdoor tubular reactors (i.e. vertical and horizontal) at different initial biomass concentrations for the TAG accumulation phase, during two distinct seasons (i.e. high and low light conditions). Results: Increasing IBS-light availability led to both a higher IBS-TAG production rate and TAG content at the end of the batch, whereas biomass yield on light decreased. As a result, an optimum IBS-light availability was determined for the TAG productivity obtained at the end of the batch and several guidelines could be established. The vertical reactor (VR) should be operated at an initial biomass concentration of 1.5 g L-1 to achieve high TAG productivities (1.9 and 3.2 g m-2 day-1 under low and high light, respectively). Instead, the horizontal reactor (HR) should be operated at 2.5 g L-1 under high light (2.6 g m-2 day-1), and at 1.5 g L-1 under low light (1.4 g m-2 day-1). Conclusions: From this study, the great importance of IBS-light availability on TAG production can be deduced. Although maintaining high light availabilities in the reactor is key to reach high TAG contents at the end of the batch, considerable losses in TAG productivity were observed for the two reactors regardless of light condition, when not operated at optimal initial biomass concentrations (15-40% for VR and 30-60% for HR).

Original languageEnglish
Article number100
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • chlorella-zofingiensis
  • lipid-accumulation
  • growth
  • light
  • photobioreactors
  • cultivation
  • design

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