Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 887–899 | Cite as

Chlorella vulgaris (SAG 211-12) biofilm formation capacity and proposal of a rotating flat plate photobioreactor for more sustainable biomass production

  • Miguel Melo
  • Sílvia Fernandes
  • Nídia Caetano
  • Maria Teresa BorgesEmail author


Difficulties and cost of suspended microalgal biomass harvest and processing can be overcome by cultivating microalgae as biofilms. In the present work, a new photoautotrophic biofilm photobioreactor, the rotating flat plate photobioreactor (RFPPB), was developed aiming at a cost-effective production of Chlorella vulgaris (SAG 211-12), a strain not frequently referred in the literature but promising for biofuel production. Protocols were developed for evaluating initial adhesion to different materials and testing the conditions for biofilm formation. Polyvinyl chloride substrate promoted higher adhesion and biofilm production, followed by polypropylene, polyethylene, and stainless steel. The new RFPPB was tested, aiming at optimizing incident light utilization, minimizing footprint area and simplifying biomass harvesting. Tests show that the photobioreactor is robust, promotes biofilm development, and has simple operation, small footprint, and easy biomass harvest. Biomass production (dry weight) under non-optimized conditions was 3.35 g m−2, and areal productivity was 2.99 g m−2 day−1. Lipid content was 10.3% (dw), with high PUFA content. These results are promising and can be improved by optimizing some operational parameters, together with evaluation of long-term photobioreactor maximum productivity.


Biofilm Chlorella vulgaris SAG 211-12 Footprint Harvest Rotating flat plate photobioreactor 



This work was financially supported by the Project FCT UID/EQU/00305/2013 and Project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006939 (Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy – LEPABE funded by FEDER funds through COMPETE2020—Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (POCI)—and by national funds through FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia—and partially supported also by the Strategic Funding UID/Multi/04423/2013 through national funds provided to CIIMAR (Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research) by FCT and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in the framework of the program PT2020.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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10811_2017_1290_MOESM4_ESM.docx (17 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miguel Melo
    • 1
  • Sílvia Fernandes
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nídia Caetano
    • 4
    • 5
  • Maria Teresa Borges
    • 6
    • 7
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of Sciences, Department of Geoscience, Environment and Territory ManagementUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Institute for Research and Innovation in HealthUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.School of Health – Polytechnic of Porto (ESS-P. Porto)PortoPortugal
  4. 4.LEPABEFaculty of Engineering of University of Porto (FEUP)PortoPortugal
  5. 5.School of Engineering (ISEP), Polytechnic of Porto (P. Porto)PortoPortugal
  6. 6.Faculty of Sciences, Department of BiologyUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  7. 7.CIIMAR – Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research of the University of PortoMatosinhosPortugal

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