Open thin-layer cascade photobioreactors for microalgae mass production with physical climate simulation

Andreas Apel, doctoral thesis Technical University of Munich, 2018

Large-scale photobioreactors are required for microalgae mass production with sunlight. Open thin-layer cascade reactors with up to 50 m² area were designed and evaluated at Mediterranean day and night conditions reproduced with a physical climate simulation supported by multi-color LEDs. Low-cost reactor construction materials (pond liner) and up to 20 fold increase in biomass density compared to industry-standard open photobioreactors can reduce microalgae biomass production cost.


  • Pfaffinger CE, Severin TS, Apel AC, Göbel J, Sauter J, Weuster-Botz D (2019): Light-dependent growth kinetics enable scale-up of well-mixed phototrophic bioprocesses in different types of photobioreactors. J Biotechnol 297: 41-48.
  • Severin TS, Apel A, Brück T, Weuster-Botz D (2018): Investigation of vertical mixing in open thin-layer cascade reactors using Computational Fluid Dynamics. Chem Eng Res Design, DOI 10.1016/j.cherd.2018.01.036.
  • Apel AC, Pfaffinger CE, Basedahl N, Mittwollen N, Göbel J, Sauter J, Brück T, Weuster-Botz D (2017): Open thin-layer cascade reactors for saline microalgae production evaluated in a physically simulated Mediterranean summer climate. Algal Research 25 (2017): 381–390.
  • Severin TS, Plamauer S, Apel AC, Brück T, Weuster-Botz D (2017): Rapid salinity measurements for fluid flow characterisation using minimal invasive sensors. Chem Eng Sci 166: 161-167.
  • Apel A, Weuster-Botz D (2015): Engineering solutions for open microalgae mass cultivation and realistic indoor simulation of outdoor environments. Bioproc Biosys Eng 38: 995-1008.