Prediction of volumetric productivity of an outdoor photobioreactor

R. Bosma, E. van Zessen, J.H. Reith, J. Tramper, R.H. Wijffels

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66 Citations (Scopus)


Volumetric productivity of Monodus subterraneus cultivated in an outdoor pilot-plant bubble column was predicted with a mathematical model. Two border cases to model the photobioreactor were chosen. Firstly, a model with no light integration in which it is assumed that microalgae can adapt immediately to local light conditions. Secondly, full light integration implicating that microalga can convert all absorbed light with a photosynthetic yield based on average light intensity. Because temperature and light conditions in our photobioreactor changed during the day, photosynthetic yields at any combination of temperature and light intensity were needed. These were determined in repeated-batch lab-scale experiments with an experimental design. The model was evaluated in an outdoor bubble column at different natural light conditions and different temperatures. Volumetric productivities in the bubble column were predicted and compared with experimental volumetric productivities. The light integration model over-estimated productivity, while the model in which we assumed no light integration under-estimated productivity. Light integration occurred partly (47%) during the period investigated. The average observed biomass yield on light was 0.60 g·mol-1. The model of partly light integration predicted an average biomass yield on light of 0.57 g·mol-1 and predicted that productivity could have been increased by 19% if culture temperature would have been maintained at 24°C.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1108-1120
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • monodus-subterraneus
  • microalgal cultures
  • light
  • photoinhibition
  • photosynthesis
  • cultivation
  • model
  • phytoplankton
  • cyanobacteria
  • temperature

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