Photobioreactors for microalgal cultures: A Lagrangian model coupling hydrodynamics and kinetics

Giuseppe Olivieri*, Luigi Gargiulo, Paola Lettieri, Luca Mazzei, Piero Salatino, Antonio Marzocchella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Closed photobioreactors have to be optimized in terms of light utilization and overall photosynthesis rate. A simple model coupling the hydrodynamics and the photosynthesis kinetics has been proposed to analyze the photosynthesis dynamics due to the continuous shuttle of microalgae between dark and lighted zones of the photobioreactor. Microalgal motion has been described according to a stochastic Lagrangian approach adopting the turbulence model suitable for the photobioreactor configuration (single vs. two-phase flows). Effects of light path, biomass concentration, turbulence level and irradiance have been reported in terms of overall photosynthesis rate. Different irradiation strategies (internal, lateral and rounding) and several photobioreactor configurations (flat, tubular, bubble column, airlift) have been investigated. Photobioreactor configurations and the operating conditions to maximize the photosynthesis rate have been pointed out. Results confirmed and explained the common experimental observation that high concentrated cultures are not photoinhibited at high irradiance level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1259-1272
JournalBiotechnology Progress
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Hydrodynamic
  • Light
  • Microalgae
  • Photobioreactor
  • Random walk
  • Turbulent dispersion


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