Microalgal reactors: a review of enclosed system designs and performances

Ana P. Carvalho, Luís A. Meireles, F. Xavier Malcata*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

708 Citations (Scopus)


One major challenge to industrial microalgal culturing is to devise and develop technical apparata, cultivation procedures and algal strains susceptible of undergoing substantial increases in efficiency of use of solar energy and carbon dioxide. Despite several research efforts developed to date, there is no such thing as "the best reactor system" - defined, in an absolute fashion, as the one able to achieve maximum productivity with minimum operation costs, irrespective of the biological and chemical system at stake. In fact, choice of the most suitable system is situation-dependent, as both the species of alga available and the final purpose intended will play a role. The need of accurate control impairs use of open-system configurations, so current investigation has focused mostly on closed systems. In this review, several types of closed bioreactors described in the technical literature as able to support production of microalgae are comprehensively presented and duly discussed, using transport phenomenon and process engineering methodological approaches. The text is subdivided into subsections on: reactor design, which includes tubular reactors, flat plate reactors and fermenter-type reactors; and processing parameters, which include gaseous transfer, medium mixing and light requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1490-1506
Number of pages17
JournalBiotechnology Progress
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


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