Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

First Advisor

Gary Anderson


light, light guide, microalgae, photobioreactor


The purposes of the thesis is to explain the microalgae cultivation in a photobioreactor system; demonstrate the light activity in a flat-plate photobioreactor; and design the light channeling system. Generally, microalgae are cultivated in open ponds and in closed photobioreactor systems. In open ponds, the productivity of microalgal biomass is very low, due to lack and improper use of carbon and energy sources. In photobioreactor systems, all required inputs can be supplied effectively to the microalgae which in turn increases the biomass productivity. However, these systems are expensive to build and to maintain in a largescale basis. In a photobioreactor, the supply of carbon source can be controlled easily, but not the supply of energy. The main energy source in a photobioreactor is light. Controlling light activity in a photobioreactor can be a big challenge. Since light plays a vital role in microalgal growth, studying light activity in a photobioreactor is crucial. The fundamentals of light behavior is also presented. An experiment has been carried out to analyze the interaction of light with all the factors like growth medium, gas bubble flumes, biomass concentration, and the light path length in the photobioreactor system. These experiments are used to determine the light penetration in to a photobioreactor system.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Microalgae -- Cultures and culture media


Optical fibers

Light -- Transmission


Includes bibliographical references (page 82-84)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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