An enclosed rotating floating photobioreactor (RFP) powered by flowing water for mass cultivation of photosynthetic microalgae

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Abstract

Background: The design of photobioreactor (PBR) for outdoor mass cultivation of microalgae determines the distribution of solar irradiance among cells in the culture, mode of agitation, mass transfer efficacy, and energy consumption, thus determines the productivity of the system and the cost of production. In this study, the concept of a floating photobioreactor with rotation function is proposed. Dunaliella tertiolecta, a model microalga, cultured in the attached vessels was evaluated. Results: The rotation of the photobioreactor was powered by flowing water, in this case waves generated through a paddle wheel in an outdoor raceway pond for proof of concept. The rotating floating PBR (RFP) could be powered by natural flowing stream, river, and tidal waves, thus there could be no energy cost for agitation of the cultures in maintaining the cells in suspension. This RFP is characterized by its energy-saving and temperature control properties as well as more homogenous light distribution in the culture as compared to conventional culture systems, such as raceway pond. Maximal cell concentration of 8.38 × 106 cells mL−1, biomass productivity of 3.10 g m−2 day−1, and photosynthetic efficiency of 4.61 % (PAR) were achieved. In addition, satisfactory productivities of D. tertiolecta metabolites including carotenoids, mycosporine-like amino acids and lipids were also obtained. Conclusions: The RFP, powered by flowing water, creates an innovative culture technology for economical cultivation of microalgal cells and production of microalgal metabolites.

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Huang, J. J., Bunjamin, G., Teo, E. S., Ng, D. B., & Lee, Y. K. (2016). An enclosed rotating floating photobioreactor (RFP) powered by flowing water for mass cultivation of photosynthetic microalgae. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13068-016-0633-8

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