Industrial Photobioreactor for Commercial Production of Algae-Based Biodiesel

Milton Sommerfeld (Inventor)

Research output: Patent


The major criteria for algae photobioreactor design are greatest photosynthesis and biomass production per volume and surface area; minimized hydrodynamic stress that damages cells; low costs of fabrication, installation, and maintenance; and capability to expand to industrial scale. All designs exhibit tradeoffs of these criteria, but there is a need to do better to make algae-derived biofuels more competitive. Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a novel photobioreactor configuration that makes fewer tradeoffs compared to existing designs. Dubbed the Modular Double-Wall Panel Photobioreactor (MDWPP), this design reduces culture depth to ~2-6", increasing photosynthesis and biomass production. It also reduces dark volume to sustain higher cell density (thus yielding more biomass) and utilizes aeration for mixing without damaging hydrodynamic stress. Furthermore, the MDWPP design needs only 10-20% of the land area that would be required for a comparable open raceway system. This design offers significant improvements over existing designs and is scalable to industrial volumes. Potential Applications Algae-based renewable biomass/energy production Microalgal carbon sequestration from fossil fuel-fired power plants. Secondary and tertiary treatment of wastewater Production of algae for fish and other cultured aquatic animals Production of algae-based nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. Production of algae-derived fine chemicals including polysaccharides for cosmetics Production of algae for organic fertilizers and soil amendmentsBenefits and Advantages Compared to open raceway ponds: greater photosynthesis and biomass production uses much less land areaCompared to enclosed tubular photobioreactors: reduced dark volume increased cell density less cell damage because of lower hydrodynamic stress Download Original PDFFor more information about the inventor(s) and their research, please see Dr. Sommerfield's departmental webpageDr. Hu's departmental webpage
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Sep 21 2005


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