As reported in the study, the high-oil/ha-year productivity of microalgae has raised a lot of interest in their use as a source of raw materials for biofuels. However, the high costs of production and maintenance of closed culture systems (photobioreactor type) and the problems of contamination that lead to lower productivity of open systems (of the “open-pond” type) have become important limitations in evaluating the sustainability of producing biofuels from microalgae.In the view of the favorable prospects of employing microalgae as an economically viable source of raw materials for the production of biofuels, this chapter outlines the different ways microalgae are cultivated, the required nutritional conditions and the main procedures used for increasing their scale. Additionally, those more commonly used on a large scale are described and their advantages and disadvantages are pointed out. This analysis results in a proposal of a new type of photobioreactor, of the cylindrical container type, constructed of polyethylene, a non-transparent material that is cheaper and more durable than the ones that are commonly used (polycarbonate, glass or polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)). Internal illumination of the photobioreactor is provided by a beam from plastic optical fibers that receive sunlight focused at the extremity of the beam.
Part of the book: Biofuels