The productivity of a vertical outdoor photobioreactor was quantitatively assessed and compared to a horizontal reactor. Daily light cycles in southern Spain were simulated and applied to grow the microalgae Chlorella sorokiniana in a flat panel photobioreactor. The maximal irradiance around noon differs from 400μmolphotonsm-2s-1in the vertical position to 1800μmolphotonsm-2s-1in the horizontal position. The highest volumetric productivity was achieved in the simulated horizontal position, 4gkg culture-1d-1. The highest photosynthetic efficiency was found for the vertical simulation, 1.3g of biomass produced per mol of PAR photons supplied, which compares favorably to the horizontal position (0.85gmol-1) and to the theoretical maximal yield (1.8gmol-1). These results prove that productivity per unit of ground area could be greatly enhanced by placing the photobioreactors vertically. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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