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Turbulence in mass algal cultures and the role of light/dark fluctuations

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In mass algal cultures, some form of agitation is usually provided; among other effects, this moves the organisms though an optically dense profile and provides mixing. During this transport, medium frequency fluctuations in the light energy supply are perceived by the algae, which are of the order of 1 Hz and less. It has been suggested that turbulence with the resultant light/dark cycles of medium frequency enhances productivity. However, turbulence has two major influences in a well mixed system: it facilitates fluctuating light regimes and increases the transfer rates between the growth medium and the cultured organism. An estimation of productivity as oxygen liberation was measured under laminar and turbulent flow rates, and varying light/dark ratios. Increased turbulence, which increased exchange rates of nutrients and metabolites between the cells and their growth medium, together with increased light/dark frequencies, increased productivity and photosynthetic efficiency.

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Grobbelaar, J.U. Turbulence in mass algal cultures and the role of light/dark fluctuations. J Appl Phycol 6, 331–335 (1994).

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