Dynamics and Control of a Periodically Forced Microalgae Culture

Carlos Martinez1, Francis Mairet2, Pierre Martinon2, Olivier Bernard3

  • 1INRIA Sophia Antipolis
  • 2Inria
  • 3INRIA

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Microalgae cultivation with wastewater is a promising way of reducing the energetic needs for wastewater treatment and the costs of biofuel production. However, the very turbid medium is not favorable for the development of microalgae. Indeed, light, the key element for photosynthesis, rapidly vanishes along depth due to absorption and scattering. Therefore it is crucial to understand the effects of the depth on turbid cultures. In this work, we study theoretically the long-term behavior of a continuous culture of microalgae exposed to a periodic source of light. By allowing periodic variations of the depth and the hydraulic retention time, we show that the microalgae population is forced to a periodic regime. Finally, we address numerically the problem of determining the optimal variations of the depth and the hydraulic retention time for maximizing the productivity of the culture in the periodic regime.

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