Light-limited continuous culture of Chlorella vulgaris in a Taylor vortex reactor



Recently, it has been demonstrated that Taylor vortices—hydrodynamic structures that arise in the annular region between two concentric cylinders when the inner cylinder rotates—can substantially improve the growth rate of algal biomass in a batch photobioreactor by inducing the flashing light effect. In order to assess the potential for using Taylor vortex flow to continuously culture algae, experiments were carried out in a continuous flow Taylor vortex algal photobioreactor using Chlorella vulgaris. Specifically, two important operating parameters were varied: the dilution rate and the inner cylinder rotation speed. For a fixed inner cylinder rotation speed, biomass productivity was independent of dilution rate. In contrast, biomass productivity was found to increase with increasing inner cylinder rotation speed for a fixed dilution rate, but this effect became less pronounced at higher rotation speeds. Overall, it is demonstrated that a continuous flow Taylor vortex algal photobioreactor can be used to produce and sustain high biomass production and carbon dioxide capture rates when operated in continuous flow mode. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 32: 884–890, 2013