Photobioreactor Basics

A Photobioreactor is a closed looped system for the cultivation of monoculture micro algae. These systems incorporate a light source to provide Photosynthetically Available Radiation (PAR) to be input into the Photobioreactor. This light source can be natural sunlight, or an artificial light such as LED. All Photobioreactor have some sort of monitoring and control of the inputs of photosynthesis. Photobioreactors have many advantages over traditional raceway pond cultivation.

  • Contamination of other algae species is minimized or prevented, allowing for the axenic algal cultivation of cultivating monocultures.
  • Easy and better control over biocultural conditions (light, nutrients, CO2, pH and temperature).
  • Evaporation of water is prevented.
  • Better absorption of input CO2.
  • Permit higher cell concentrations than raceway ponds.
  • Reduce space need and increase production exponentially more than a raceway pond.

Limiting Factors

Regardless of the type of Photobioreactor (tubular, thin film, bag, tank, etc.) There are limiting factors that are relevant.

  • Fouling caused by algae collecting on the surface will inhibit light absorption and reduce production
  • Pumping is a major concern. Too much shear will damage more delicate algae species.
  • Low flow rates will bleach algae from to much light and dissolved oxygen will build up, both of which greatly inhibit cell reproduction.
  • Light transmission into the growing media only reaches to a certain depth before photosynthesis ceases. In dark areas more complex synthesist occurs.
  • When the algae do not have the proper amount of time in each phase growth rates are greatly depreciated.
  • Control over the growing parameters needs to be closely maintained to specifications.

The Phyta-Platform has solved all of these limiting factors:

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