Characteristic time scales of mixing, mass transfer and biomass growth in a Taylor vortex algal photobioreactor

Xi Gao, Bo Kong, R. Dennis Vigil*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Recently it has been demonstrated that algal biomass yield can be enhanced using fluid flow patterns known as Taylor vortices. It has been suggested that these growth rate improvements can be attributed to improved light delivery as a result of rapid transport of microorganisms between light and dark regions of the reactor. However, Taylor vortices also strongly impact fluid mixing and interphase (gas-liquid) mass transport, and these in turn may also explain improvements in biomass productivity. To identify the growth-limiting factor in a Taylor vortex algal photobioreactor, experiments were performed to determine characteristic time scales for mixing and mass transfer. By comparing these results with the characteristic time scale for biomass growth, it is shown that algal growth rate in Taylor vortex reactors is not limited by fluid mixing or interphase mass transfer, and therefore the observed biomass productivity improvements are likely attributable to improved light utilization efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-291
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Mass transfer
  • Photobioreactors
  • Taylor vortex reactor
  • Taylor-Couette flow


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