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Optimization of ferric chloride concentration and pH to improve both cell growth and flocculation in Chlorella vulgaris cultures. Application to medium reuse in an integrated continuous culture bioprocess

Lecina, Martí, Nadal, Gisela, Solà, Carles, Prat, Jordi, Cairó, Jordi J.
Bioresource technology 2016 v.216 pp. 211-218
Chlorella vulgaris, biomass, bioprocessing, cell growth, ferric chloride, flocculation, harvesting, microalgae, nutrients, pH, production costs
Combined effect of ferric chloride and pH on Chlorella vulgaris growth and flocculation were optimized using DoE. Afterwards, an integrated bioprocess for microalgae cultivation and harvesting conceived as a sole step was run in continuous operation mode. Microalgae concentration in a 2L-photobioreactor was about 0.5gL-1 and the efficiency of flocculation in the coupled sedimentation tank was about 95%. Dewatered microalgae reached a biomass concentrations increase about 50-fold, whereas it was only about 0.02gL−1 in the clarified medium. Then, the reuse of the clarified medium recovered was further evaluated. The clarified medium was reused without any further nutrient supplementation, whereas a second round of medium reuse was performed after supplementation of main nutrients (phosphate–sulfate–nitrate), micronutrients and ferric chloride. The medium reuse strategy did not affect cell growth and flocculation. Consequently, the reuse of medium reduces the nutrients requirements and the demand for water, and therefore the production costs should be reduced accordingly.