In a collaborative laboratory scale research, researchers from Wageningen University, the Netherlands and the University of Huelva, Spain, studied the use of vertical photobioreactors for improving the photosynthetic efficiency of microalgae. The productivity of vertical outdoor photobioreactor was analyzed quantitatively and compared with that of a horizontal photobioreactor.
For this study they simulated the daily light cycles of Spain and applied them to the microalgae grown in a flat-panel photobioreactor. The highest volumetric productivity was achieved in the simulated horizontal position, 4 g kg culture−1 d−1. The highest photosynthetic efficiency was found for the vertical simulation, 1.3 g of biomass produced per mol of PAR photons supplied, which compares favorably to the horizontal position (0.85 g mol−1) and to the theoretical maximal yield (1.8 g mol−1). These results suggest that productivity per unit of ground area could be greatly enhanced by placing the photobioreactors vertically.
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