Development of thin-film photo-bioreactor and its application to outdoor culture of microalgae

Jae Jun Yoo, Seung Phill Choi, Jaoon Y.H. Kim, Won Seok Chang, Sang Jun Sim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Photosynthetic microalgae have received much attention as a microbial source of diverse useful biomaterials through CO2 fixation and various types of photo-bioreactors have been developed for efficient microalgal cultivation. Herein, we developed a novel thin-film photo-bioreactor, which was made of cast polypropylene film, considering outdoor mass cultivation. To develop optimal design of photo-bioreactor, we tested performance of three shapes of thin-film photo-bioreactors (flat, horizontal and vertical tubular shapes) and various parts in the bioreactor. Collectively, vertical tubular bioreactor with H/D ratio 6:1 and cylindrical stainless steel spargers showed the most outstanding performance. Furthermore, the photo-bioreactor was successfully applied to the cultivation of other microalgae such as Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Chlorella vulgaris. The scalability of photo-bioreactor was confirmed by gradually increasing culture volume from 4 to 25 L and the biomass productivity of each reactor was quite consistent (0.05-0.07 g/L/day) during the cultivation of H. pluvialis under indoor and outdoor conditions. Especially, we also achieved dry cell weight of 4.64 g/L and astaxanthin yield of 218.16 mg/L through long-term cultivation (100 days) under outdoor condition in 15 L photo-bioreactor using Haematococcus pluvialis, which means that the astaxanthin yield from outdoor cultivation is equal or superior to that obtained from controlled indoor condition. Therefore, these results indicate that we can apply this approach to development of optimal photo-bioreactor for the large-scale culture of microalgae and production of useful biomaterials under outdoor condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-736
Number of pages8
JournalBioprocess and Biosystems Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun


  • Haematococcus pluvialis
  • Microalgae
  • Outdoor
  • Photo-bioreactor
  • Scale-up

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering


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