Development of thin-layer cascades for microalgae cultivation: milestones (review)
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In this work, the key moments of the development of the so-called thin-layer cascades (TLC) for microalgae production are described. Development started at the end of the 1950s when the first generation of TLCs was set-up in former Czechoslovakia. Since, similar units for microalgae culturing, which are relatively simple, low-cost and highly productive, have been installed in a number of other countries worldwide. The TLCs are characterized by microalgae growth at a low depth (< 50 mm) and fast flow (0.4–0.5 m/s) of culture compared to mixed ponds or raceways. It guarantees a high ratio of exposed surface to total culture volume (> 100 1/m) and rapid light/dark cycling frequencies of cells which result in high biomass productivity (> 30 g/m2/day) and operating at high biomass density, > 10 g/L of dry mass (DW). In TLCs, microalgae culture is grown in the system of inclined platforms that combine the advantages of open systems—direct sun irradiance, easy heat derivation, simple cleaning and maintenance, and efficient degassing—with positive features of closed systems—operation at high biomass densities achieving high volumetric productivity. Among significant advantages of thin layer cascades compared to raceway ponds are the operation at much higher cell densities, very high daylight productivities, and the possibility to store the culture in retention tanks at night, or in unfavourable weather conditions. Concerning the limitations of TLCs, one has to consider contaminations by other microalgae that limit cultivation to robust, fast-growing strains, or those cultured in selective environments.
The authors thank Mr. Petr Novotný and Ms. Soňa Pekařová for technical assistance, Mr. Jason Dean for language corrections and Prof. Ondřej Prášil for critical reading.
Tomáš Grivalský took a leading part in preparation of this manuscript with contribution of Richard Lhotský, Karolína Ranglová, João A. Câmara Manoel and Gergely E. Lakatos. Jiří Masojídek revised and finalized the manuscript as corresponding author.
This work was funded by National Sustainability Programme of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (project Algatech Plus LO1416) and by EU programme Horizon 2020 (project SABANA, grant agreement no.727874).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
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