A dynamic model for microalgal culture is presented. The model takes into account the fluid-dynamic and mass transfer, in addition to biological phenomena, it being based on fundamental principles. The model has been calibrated and validated using data from a pilot-scale tubular photobioreactor but it can be extended to other designs. It can be used to determine, from experimental measurements, the values of characteristic parameters. The model also allows a simulation of the system's dynamic behaviour in response to solar radiation, making it a useful tool for design and operation optimization of photobioreactors. Moreover, the model permits the identification of local pH gradients, dissolved oxygen and dissolved carbon dioxide; that can damage microalgae growth. In addition, the developed model can map the different characteristic time scales of phenomena inside microalgae cultures within tubular photobioreactors, meaning it is a valuable tool in the development of advanced control strategies for microalgae cultures. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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