Light management technologies for increasing algal photobioreactor efficiency

Document Type


PubMed ID



Elsevier BV


Centre of Excellence for Microphotonic Systems / Electron Science Research Institute




Nwoba, E. G., Parlevliet, D. A., Laird, D. W., Alameh, K., & Moheimani, N. R. (2019). Light management technologies for increasing algal photobioreactor efficiency. Algal Research, 39. Available here.


The ever-increasing demand for food, valuable bio-based compounds and energy has triggered the development of novel and sustainable resources. Microalgae are a promising source of sustainable high-value products. The need for light (suitable intensity and wavelength) and temperature control in microalgal cultures remains the most significant challenge limiting their photosynthetic efficiency and productivity. Appropriate light management has the potential to concurrently maximize photosynthetic productivity and control the temperature of microalgal photobioreactors resulting in a reduction in overall production costs. Here, we review innovations to improve light conversion efficiency and temperature control, such as spectral filtration, plasmonic waveguides, spectral shifting, wireless light emitters and insulated glazing, which typically increase the photosynthetic productivity, while avoiding overheating in photobioreactors. Infrared filtering reduces culture overheating in closed photobioreactors. Spectral shifting, plasmonic waveguiding, switchable glass and insulated glazing technologies can improve light quality received by algal cells. Improving light efficiency and distribution in the algal cultures can significantly enhance biomass productivity when used in open or closed cultivation systems. Based on this background, we illuminate the effectiveness of embedding the above-mentioned technologies into a novel insulated-glazed photovoltaic flat panel photobioreactor for simultaneously increasing the biomass and generating electricity, thus, eliminating the need for cooling systems. This approach opens the way for the development of cost-effective, low-carbon-footprint grid-independent integrated algae-based biorefineries with multi-product yields. © 2019



Access Rights

subscription content