Simulation of algae growth in a bench-scale bubble column reactor

Xiaoxi Wu, Jose C. Merchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


The growth of the marine red microalga Porphyridium sp. in a bubble-column photobioreactor was simulated. The proposed model constitutes a dynamic integration of the kinetics of photosynthesis and photoinhibition with the fluid dynamics of the bubble column, including the effects of shear stress on the kinetics of growth. The kinetic data used in the model were obtained in independent experiments run in a thin-film photobioreactor with defined light/dark cycles. The maintenance term was modified to take into account the effects of liquid flow in the bioreactor on the growth rate. A hybrid method proposed for the approximate solution of the equations gave an appreciable reduction of the calculation time. Extrapolations of the model indicated the possibility of predicting the optimal diameter for an assembly of bubble column photobioreactors. Satisfactory fit was found with the experimental results of biomass growth in a 13-liter bubble column.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-168
Number of pages13
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2002


  • Bubble column
  • Mathematical model
  • Photobioreactor
  • Simulation


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