Scaling up microalgal cultures to commercial scale

Michael A. Borowitzka, Avigad Vonshak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Scaling up algal cultures to the very large volumes required for commercial production is a complex task and requires skilled and experienced personnel. First it is necessary to consider how to optimize the process of producing enough inoculum for the large ponds or photobioreactors in order to minimize the time and cost required. In order to minimize the need for re-inoculation from stock cultures it is also essential to manage the large-scale cultures to avoid significant contamination or collapse. The maintenance of long-term, stable, high-productivity, large-scale cultures, usually under prevailing outdoor conditions of variable irradiance, temperature and rainfall, presents additional challenges most of which are not seen in the constant environment experienced by small-scale laboratory cultures. Methods and protocols to deal with these can only be developed at the large-scale and they will mostly be specific for the alga being cultured, the culture system being used and the location of the production plant. A common feature of all large-scale operations known to us is that, over time (years), both productivity and reliability of the cultures improve as the operators gather experience in managing their cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-418
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Phycology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2017


  • Commercial-scale
  • limitations
  • microalgae
  • productivity
  • reliability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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