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Commercial production of microalgae: ponds, tanks, and fermenters

Borowitzka, M.A.ORCID: 0000-0001-6504-4563 (1999) Commercial production of microalgae: ponds, tanks, and fermenters. Progress in Industrial Microbiology, 35 . pp. 313-321.

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The commercial culture of microalgae is now over 30 years old with the main microalgal species grown being Chlorella and Spirulina for health food, Dunaliella salina for β-carotene, Haematococcus pluvialis for astaxanthin and several species for aquaculture. The culture systems currently used to grow these algae are generally fairly unsophisticated. For example, Dunaliella salina is cultured in large (up to approx. 250 ha) shallow open-air ponds with no artificial mixing. Similarly, Chlorella and Spirulina also are grown outdoors in either paddle-wheel mixed ponds or circular ponds with a rotating mixing arm of up to about 1 ha in area per pond. The production of microalgae for aquaculture is generally on a much smaller scale, and in many cases is carried out indoors in 20-40 1 carboys or in large plastic bags of up to approximately 1000 1 in volume. More recently, a helical tubular photobioreactor system, the BIOCOIL™, has been developed which allows these algae to be grown reliably outdoors at high cell densities in semi-continuous culture. Other closed photobioreactors such as fiat panels are also being developed. The main problem facing the commercialisation of new microalgae and microalgal products is the need for closed culture systems and the fact that these are very capital intensive. The high cost of microalgal culture systems relates to the need for light and the relatively slow growth rate of the algae. Although this problem has been avoided in some instances by growing the algae heterotrophically, not all algae or algal products can be produced this way.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Algae & Seagrass Research Group
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 1999 Elsevier B.V.
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