Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 531–542 | Cite as

Mixotrophic cultivation of microalgae to enhance the quality of lipid for biodiesel application: effects of scale of cultivation and light spectrum on reduction of α-linolenic acid

  • Suvidha Gupta
  • Sanjay B. Pawar
Research Paper


The research on microalgal biodiesel is focused not only on getting the highest lipid productivity but also desired quality of lipid. The experiments were initially conducted on flask scale (1L) using acetate carbon source at different concentrations viz. 0.5, 2, 3 and 4 g L−1. The optimum concentration of acetate was considered for further experiments in two airlift photobioreactors (10 L) equipped separately with red and white LED lights. The Feasibility Index (FI) was derived to analyze the scalability of mixotrophic cultivation based on net carbon fixation in biomass per consumption of total organic carbon. The experimental strategy under mixotrophic mode of cultivation lowered the α-linolenic acid content of lipid by 60–80% as compared to autotrophic cultivation for Scenedesmus abundans species and yielded the highest biomass and lipid productivities, 59 ± 2 and 17 ± 1.8 mg L−1 day−1, respectively. The TOC, nitrate, and phosphate reduction rates were 74.6 ± 3.0, 11.5 ± 1.4, 9.6 ± 2.4 mg L−1 day−1, respectively. The significant change was observed in lipid compositions due to the scale, mode of cultivation, and light spectra. As compared to phototrophic cultivation, biodiesel obtained under mixotrophic cultivation only met standard biodiesel properties. The FI data showed that the mixotrophic cultivation was feasible on moderate concentrations of acetate (2–3 g L−1).


Algal biodiesel Lipid enhancement PUFA reduction Bioreactor Red LED 



The corresponding author is thankful to the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi for their financial support for this research work under the scheme of DST INSPIRE Faculty Award (IFA13-ENG63). Authors are very grateful to the Director of CSIR-NEERI Nagpur and Dr. H. J. Purohit, Head, EBGD, CSIR-NEERI for his continual support to enhance the quality of this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

449_2017_1888_MOESM1_ESM.tif (7.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIF 7770 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Biotechnology and Genomics DivisionCSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI)NagpurIndia

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