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Influence of Light Absorption Rate by Nannochloropsis oculata on Triglyceride Production During Nitrogen Starvation


This study aims to understand the role of light transfer in triglyceride fatty-acid (TG-FA) cell content and productivity from microalgae during nitrogen starvation. Large amounts of TG-FA can be produced via nitrogen starvation of microalgae in photobioreactors exposed to intense light. First, spectral absorption and scattering cross-sections of N. oculata were measured at different times during nitrogen starvation. They were used to relate the mean volumetric rate of energy absorption (MVREA) per unit mass of microalgae to the TG-FA productivity and cell content. TG-FA productivity correlated with the MVREA and reached a maximum for MVREA of 13 ?molh?/g·s. This indicated that TG-FA synthesis was limited by the photon absorption rate in the PBR. A minimum MVREA of 13 ?molh?/g·s was also necessary at the onset of nitrogen starvation to produce cells with 40-45 dry wt.% TG-FA. These results will be instrumental in defining protocols for TG-FA production in scaled-up photobioreactors.