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22 October 2007 Investigation of microalgae with photon density waves
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Phototropic microalgae have a large potential for producing valuable substances for the feed, food, cosmetics, pigment, bioremediation, and pharmacy industries as well as for biotechnological processes. Today it is estimated that the microalgal aquaculture worldwide production is 5000 tons of dry matter per year (not taking into account processed products) making it an approximately $1.25 billion U.S. per year industry. For effective observation of the photosynthetic growth processes, fast on-line sensor systems that analyze the relevant biological and technical process parameters are preferred. The optical properties of the microalgae culture influence the transport of light in the photobioreactor and can be used to extract relevant information for efficient cultivation practices. Microalgae cultivation media show a combination of light absorption and scattering, which are influenced by the concentrations and the physical and chemical properties of the different absorbing and scattering species (e.g. pigments, cell components, etc.). Investigations with frequency domain photon density waves (PDW) allow for the examination of absorption and scattering properties of turbid media, namely the absorption and reduced scattering coefficient. The reduced scattering coefficient can be used to characterize physical and morphological properties of the medium, including the cell concentration, whereas the absorption coefficient correlates with the pigment content. Nannochloropsis oculata, a single-cell species of microalgae, were examined in a nutrient solution with photon density waves. The absorption and reduced scattering coefficients were experimentally determined throughout the cultivation process, and applied to gain information about the cell concentration and average cell radius.
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Christine Frankovitch, Oliver Reich, and Hans-Gerd Löhmannsröben "Investigation of microalgae with photon density waves", Proc. SPIE 6761, Optics for Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Foods II, 67610J (22 October 2007);


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