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Bioresour Technol. 2011 May;102(10):5764-74. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2011.01.081. Epub 2011 Mar 5.

The dynamics of heterotrophic algal cultures.

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Chemical and Materials Engineering Department, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


In this work, the time varying characteristics of microalgal cultures are investigated. Microalgae are a promising source of biofuels and other valuable chemicals; a better understanding of their dynamic behavior is, however, required to facilitate process scale-up, optimization and control. Growth and oil production rates are evaluated as a function of carbon and nitrogen sources concentration. It is found that nitrogen has a major role in controlling the productivity of microalgae. Moreover, it is shown that there exists a nitrogen source concentration at which biomass and oil production can be maximized. A mathematical model that describes the effect of nitrogen and carbon source on growth and oil production is proposed. The model considers the uncoupling between nutrient uptake and growth, a characteristic of algal cells. Validity of the proposed model is tested on fed-batch cultures.

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