Computerized Optimization of Microalgal Photosynthesis and Growth

Barak Vasker, Moshe Ben-Zion, Yael Kinel-Tahan, Zvy Dubinsky, Johan Grobbelaar, Hadar Yudkin, Yaron Yehoshua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We describe the use of a novel, computerized, multiple outdoor microalgal growth system to achieve conditions maximizing high photosynthesis and biomass production rates. We applied this system to determine the effects of multiple environmental and culture parameters such as light, temperature, pH, and mode of mixing and CO2 supply, and their combinations on the rates of algal photosynthesis, respiration, and growth. We continuously monitored the following parameters: pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and light, concomitantly with algal growth and biomass production rates. In particular, we likewise monitored and determined the dramatic effects of CO2 supply, mixing by paddle wheel or bubbling air modes, on algal biomass production. The isolated and synergistic effects of each factor and operation regime were measured and are discussed. We found that the diel range of maxima to minimal pH and oxygen levels strongly correlated with container performance, and were controllable by CO2 supply and mixing regime. We conclude that mixing by bubble aeration was the most important growth-rate controlling factor. It limited the build-up of high oxygen and pH levels that reduce photosynthesis that were measured by O2 evolution. In this study, OD measurements calibrated with biomass concentrations were used to calculate growth rates and estimate the photosynthetic rates of the microalgae. The potential of algae as a source of food, feed, biofuel, and fine chemicals has been widely recognized, but their competitiveness depends on areal yields. Our results allow us to recommend culture parameters that increase areal biomass yields, regardless of the algal species, thereby bringing microalgal mass culture closer to economic viability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Phycology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Air bubbling
  • computerized algal container
  • mixing
  • pH/CO control
  • photosynthesis optimization


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