The spectral distribution of light influences microalgae productivity; however, development of photobioreactors has proceeded largely without regard to spectral optimization. Here, we use monochromatic light to quantify the joint influence of path length, culture density, light intensity, and wavelength on productivity and efficiency in Synechococcus elongatus. The productivity of green light was ∼4× that of red at the highest levels of culture density, depth, and light intensity. This performance is attributed to the combination of increased dilution and penetration of this weakly absorbed wavelength over a larger volume fraction of the reactor. In contrast, red light outperformed other wavelengths in low-density cultures with low light intensities. Low-density cultures also adapted more rapidly to reduce absorption of longer wavelengths, allowing for prolonged cultivation. Taken together, these results indicate that, particularly for artificially lit photobioreactors, wavelength needs to be included as a critical operational parameter to maintain optimal performance. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2017;114: 1160–1169.
- light dilution
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology