A collaborative paper on the design, fabrication and performance evaluation of a photobioreactor for the cultivation of Chlorella vulgaris (Beijerinck) co-authored by MNH curator for algae Dr. Milagrosa M. Goss recently won the NAST Outstanding Paper Award last July 9, 2015 during the National Academy of Science and Technology’s Annual Scientific Meeting at the historic Manila Hotel.

The paper by Denise Ester O. Santiago, Rex B. Demafelis, Milagrosa Martinez-Goss, June Owen O. Nacorda, Nerissa K. Torreta, Butch G. Bataller, Mark Jason H. Redondo, Nickson L. Jao, and Lisa Stephanie H. Dizon described the performance of a 21L locally-fabricated photobioreactor capable of culturing C. vulgaris, a microalgae with potential as substrate for biodiesel production. The article was published in the second issue of the Philippine Journal of Crop Science in 2013.

Microalgae has been hailed as one of the next generation biofuels and considered as an excellent energy source because of its high oil content and high oil yield per hectare. However, propagating microalgae such as C. vulgaris in open ponds is difficult because of the varying conditions of light and temperature. The group focused then to design an alternative system for growing C. vulgaris in enclosed systems which can be continuously operated.

The designed enclosed system made of vertical glass tubes and sheets and operated with the use of a compressor and fluorescent lamp is the first of its kind in the country. Test runs showed that the photobioreactor is suitable for large-scale cultivation of C. vulgaris.

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