Outdoor phycocyanin production in a standalone thermally-insulated photobioreactor
Electron Science Research Institute
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd The operation of solar microalgal photobioreactors requires sufficient cooling and heating to maintain reliable high productivity year-round. These operations are energy-intensive and expensive. Growth characteristics and phycocyanin production of Arthrospira platensis were investigated during the austral winter using a thermally-insulated photobioreactor with photovoltaic panel integration for electricity generation. This was compared with a control photobioreactor under a cycle of heating (13-hour night) and thermostat-regulated cooling, and continuously heated raceway pond. Average temperature in the photovoltaic photobioreactor (21.0 ± 0.03 °C) was similar to that in the heated control. Biomass productivity of Arthrospira in the novel photobioreactor was 67% higher than in the raceway pond but significantly lower than the control. Phycocyanin productivity (16.3 ± 1.43 mgg−1d−1 and purity (1.2 ± 0.03) showed no variation between photobioreactors but was significantly lower in the raceway pond. Electrical energy output of the photovoltaic photobioreactor exceeded mixing energy needs by 75%. These results indicate that the novel photobioreactor offers a reliable, energy-efficient platform for large-scale production of high-value chemicals from microalgae.