Enhanced cultivation strategy for industrial scale microalgae-based biorefinery

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Microalgae-based biorefinery is not yet economically viable compared to its fossil fuel counterpart[1]–[3]. Production of algal biofuel and multiple valuable chemicals provides microalgae-based biorefinery with a promising, cost-effective future [10]. There are numerous cultivation strategies for increasing biomass and other valuable chemicals at lab scale [4]–[6], in industrial-scale cultivation, the dynamics of culture parameters, the performance of the system, and culturing mode become challenging to identify optimal cultivation strategy. Promising large-scale cultivation technologies are bubble column photobioreactors and open pond systems [7], [8]. However, optimization of these systems requires understanding the relationship between the nutrient supply and carbon uptake kinetics[9], [10]. Although the phenomenon of nitrogen and carbon limitations are reported as promising strategies for starch and lipid accumulation [11]–[13], few of these studies have evaluated the strategy for both large-scale systems under different conditions of nutrients.
This work develops a kinetic model of microalgae growth with predictive capabilities by exploring the effect of nutrient supply and carbon dioxide consumption rate, to determine optimal nutritional composition for enhancing microalgae biomass, starch, and lipid accumulation in a large-scale system[14].
To develop the model:- experiments are carried out in large-scale cultivation experiments of 12L photobioreactor and 500L (300L volume) with microalgae strain porphyridium purpureum subject to different nutrient and carbon dioxide conditions of nitrogen and CO2 flow rates until a stationary phase 6 days was achieved.
The proposed model is constructed around the concept of the specific growth rate (μ), which defines the rate at which cells grow over time in response to any growth-limiting factor[11].
The model state variables includes total biomass X gC L−1 (i.e sum of biomass X + Starch S + Lipids L, nitrogen uptake gN L-1, nitrogen quota Nq.gN gCx−1,, carbon dioxide CO2 gC L−1, starch concentration gC gC-1 and lipids concentration L gC-1. A set of time-dependent differential equations are used to define the accumulation rate. The model output will then subsequently be validated against the experimental data. This method of established modelling can identify the optimal cultivation strategy and be employed for potential scale-up of algae-based biorefinery.

Keywords: Biorefinery, Modelling, Microalgae, Photobioreactor, Open Ponds
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2022
EventAlgaeEurope 2020 Conference, Rome, Italy - Rome, Italy
Duration: 12 Dec 202215 Dec 2022


ConferenceAlgaeEurope 2020 Conference, Rome, Italy
Internet address


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