Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 15, Issue 2–3, pp 107–114 | Cite as

Mass cultivation of Nannochloropsis sp. in annular reactors

  • Graziella Chini Zittelli
  • Liliana Rodolfi
  • Mario R. TrediciEmail author


A study was made on the mass cultivation of Nannochloropsis sp. in newly designed annular reactors operated under natural, artificial or combined illumination. The annular reactor consists of two 2-m-high Plexiglas cylinders of different diameter placed vertically one inside the other so as to form an annular culture chamber. Artificial illumination is supplied by lamps placed inside the inner cylinder. Two annular reactors of different diameter (50 and 91 cm), light path (4.5 and 3.0 cm) and illuminated surface area (5.3 and 9.3 m2) were experimented with. The effect of two different artificial light sources (fluorescent tubes and metal halide lamps) on culture productivity was investigated in both systems. The highest productivity on a per reactor basis (about 34 g (d. wt) reactor−1 24 h−1) was achieved with the larger reactor illuminated by a 400-W metal halide lamp. From February to May a 91-cm reactor illuminated only with natural light was operated in parallel with a 91-cm reactor subjected to combined illumination. Under natural illumination productivity increased from 16.6 g (d. wt) reactor−1 d−1 in February to 34.1 g (d. wt) reactor−1 d−1 in May. Under combined illumination productivity was 41.3 g (d. wt) reactor−1 d−1 in February and increased up to 48.3 g (d. wt) reactor−1 d−1 in May. Although the culture exposed to combined illumination always attained higher yields, the productivity gap between the two cultures decreased gradually along the season as solar radiation and minimum night temperatures increased. A 1200-L plant made of ten 50-cm annular reactors was set up and operated for two years with combined illumination yielding an average of 270 g of dry Nannochloropsis sp. biomass per day. More than 2000 L of concentrate suspension (50 g (d. wt) L−1) of Nannochloropsis sp. were produced and successfully used by fish hatcheries as live feed for rotifers and for rearing seabream larvae with the green-water technique. This study indicates that the annular reactor can be profitably used for long-term cultivation of Nannochloropsis in temperate climates. Besides reliability and ease of operation, the main advantage of the system is that it can be used under natural illumination, yet artificial light can be also supplied to maintain high productivity levels in winter or on cloudy days.

Annular reactor Combined illumination Nannochloropsis sp. Productivity 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graziella Chini Zittelli
    • 1
  • Liliana Rodolfi
    • 2
  • Mario R. Tredici
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Sezione di FirenzeIstituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi, CNRFirenzeItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Biotecnologie AgrarieUniversità degli Studi di FirenzeFirenzeItaly

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