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Biotechnol Prog. 2010 May-Jun;26(3):687-96. doi: 10.1002/btpr.379.

Photosynthetic efficiency of Chlorella sorokiniana in a turbulently mixed short light-path photobioreactor.

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Bioprocess Engineering, Wageningen University, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands.


To be able to study the effect of mixing as well as any other parameter on productivity of algal cultures, we designed a lab-scale photobioreactor in which a short light path (SLP) of (12 mm) is combined with controlled mixing and aeration. Mixing is provided by rotating an inner tube in the cylindrical cultivation vessel creating Taylor vortex flow and as such mixing can be uncoupled from aeration. Gas exchange is monitored on-line to gain insight in growth and productivity. The maximal productivity, hence photosynthetic efficiency, of Chlorella sorokiniana cultures at high light intensities (1,500 micromol m(-1) s(-1)) was investigated in this Taylor vortex flow SLP photobioreactor. We performed duplicate batch experiments at three different mixing rates: 70, 110, and 140 rpm, all in the turbulent Taylor vortex flow regime. For the mixing rate of 140 rpm, we calculated a quantum requirement for oxygen evolution of 21.2 mol PAR photons per mol O(2) and a yield of biomass on light energy of 0.8 g biomass per mol PAR photons. The maximal photosynthetic efficiency was found at relatively low biomass densities (2.3 g L(-1)) at which light was just attenuated before reaching the rear of the culture. When increasing the mixing rate twofold, we only found a small increase in productivity. On the basis of these results, we conclude that the maximal productivity and photosynthetic efficiency for C. sorokiniana can be found at that biomass concentration where no significant dark zone can develop and that the influence of mixing-induced light/dark fluctuations is marginal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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