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International Journal of Chemical Engineering
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 920608, 9 pages
Research Article

A Comparison of Nannochloropsis salina Growth Performance in Two Outdoor Pond Designs: Conventional Raceways versus the ARID Pond with Superior Temperature Management

1Marine Sciences Laboratory, Coastal Biogeochemistry Group, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sequim, WA 98382, USA
2Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
3Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
4College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
5Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA

Received 3 December 2011; Revised 11 March 2012; Accepted 14 March 2012

Academic Editor: Jose C. Merchuk

Copyright © 2012 Braden Crowe et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The present study examines how climatic conditions and pond design affect the growth performance of microalgae. From January to April of 2011, outdoor batch cultures of Nannochloropsis salina were grown in three replicate 780 L conventional raceways, as well as in an experimental 7500 L algae raceway integrated design (ARID) pond. The ARID culture system utilizes a series of 8–20 cm deep basins and a 1.5 m deep canal to enhance light exposure and mitigate temperature variations and extremes. The ARID culture reached the stationary phase 27 days earlier than the conventional raceways, which can be attributed to its superior temperature management and shallower basins. On a night when the air temperature dropped to −9°C, the water temperature was 18°C higher in the ARID pond than in the conventional raceways. Lipid and fatty acid content ranged from 16 to 25% and from 5 to15%, respectively, as a percentage of AFDW. Palmitic, palmitoleic, and eicosapentaenoic acids comprised the majority of fatty acids. While the ARID culture system achieved nearly double the volumetric productivity relative to the conventional raceways (0.023 versus 0.013 g L−1day−1), areal biomass productivities were of similar magnitude in both pond systems (3.47 versus 3.34 g m−2day−1), suggesting that the ARID pond design has to be further optimized, most likely by increasing the culture depth or operating at higher cell densities while maintaining adequate mixing.