Tailoring optical systems to optimized photobioreactors

    Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

    37 Scopus citations


    Photobioreactor designs are commonly restricted by the ability of conventional optical systems to deliver prescribed solar intensities and flux distributions at high collection efficiency. We explore how non-imaging optical designs can be tailored to reactor conditions that maximize bioproductivity. We consider two distinct classes of photobioreactors: (1) stationary outdoor units; and (2) an indoor reactor that requires the total separation of the collection and delivery of solar radiation. For practical and economic reasons, the latter obliges solar collectors of immense optical concentration. The outdoor direct-illumination units comprise stationary mirrored troughs placed around standard reactor shapes, and replace expensive reactors with inexpensive reflectors, while enhancing bioproductivity. For the indoor reactors, we adopt the recent innovation of dual-axis tracking solar fiber-optic mini-dish concentrators to collect, concentrate and transport sunlight to a remote reactor. Contoured polymeric light extractors distribute the light uniformly and efficiently inside the reactor. In all cases, the principal demands are: (a) accommodating reactor shapes with high ratios of irradiated surface area to volume; (b) uniform flux on the irradiated surfaces; (c) high efficiency for collecting and delivering solar radiation; (d) being based on existing and affordable technologies; and (e) compactness. Flux levels of 2000 μmol m-2 s-1 of photosynthetically active radiation are realistically attainable over the entire transparent surface of the reactor.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1175-1184
    Number of pages10
    JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
    Issue number11-12
    StatePublished - 1 Nov 2002
    EventBiohydrogen 2002 (BIO-H2) - Ede, Netherlands
    Duration: 21 Apr 200221 Apr 2002


    • Flux uniformity
    • Non-imaging optics
    • Photobioreactor
    • Photosynthetically active radiation
    • Remote irradiation
    • Solar concentration

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Fuel Technology
    • Condensed Matter Physics
    • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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