Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 1413–1420 | Cite as

Growing microalgae as aquaculture feeds on twin-layers: a novel solid-state photobioreactor

  • Thomas Naumann
  • Zehra Çebi
  • Björn Podola
  • Michael Melkonian


Four strains of marine microalgae commonly used as live feeds in hatcheries (Isochrysis sp. T.ISO, Tetraselmis suecica, Phaeodactylum tricornutum, Nannochloropsis sp.) were grown in a novel solid-state photobioreactor, the twin-layer system. Microalgae were immobilized by self adhesion to vertically oriented twin-layer modules which consisted of two different types of ultrathin layers, a macroporous source layer (glass fiber nonwoven) through which the culture medium was transported by gravity flow, and a microporous substrate layer (plain printing paper) which carried the algae on both surfaces of the source layer. This simple open cultivation system effectively separated the immobilized microalgae from the bulk of the growth medium and permitted prolonged cultivation of microalgae with average biomass yields of 10–15 g dry weight m−2 growth area after 14–25 days of cultivation. Algal biomass was harvested as fresh weight (with 72–84 % water content) without the need to pre-concentrate algae. No aeration or external CO2 supply was necessary, and due to the microporous substrate layer, no eukaryotic contaminations were observed during the experiment. All experiments were conducted in Germany under greenhouse conditions with natural sunlight. Small-scale growth experiments performed under the same conditions revealed that growth over most of the experimental period (24 days) was linear in all tested algae with growth rates (dry weight per square meter growth area) determined to be 0.6 g  m−2 day−1 (Isochrysis), 0.8 g  m−2 day−1 (Nannochloropsis), 1.5 g  m−2 day−1 (Tetraselmis), and 1.8 g  m−2 day−1 (Phaeodactylum). Due to its cost-effective construction and with further optimisation of design and productivity at technical scales, the twin-layer system may provide an attractive alternative to methods traditionally used to cultivate live microalgae.


Microalgae feeds Hatcheries Immobilized cell culture Growth rates 



The development of the twin-layer PBR was supported by Algenion GmbH & Co. KG (Dietzenbach, Germany), which the authors gratefully acknowledge. Furthermore, we would like to thank Leo Leson and the staff of the workshop of the Cologne Biocenter, University of Cologne for their excellent technical support during development and construction of the twin-layer PBRs.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Naumann
    • 1
  • Zehra Çebi
    • 1
  • Björn Podola
    • 1
  • Michael Melkonian
    • 1
  1. 1.Botanisches Institut, Lehrstuhl 1Universität zu KölnKölnGermany

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