Photosynthetic biogas upgrading using microalgae: Effect of light/dark photoperiod


Biogas can be upgraded continuously during light/dark cycle using a photobioreactor.

Desorption from reactor and accumulation as HCO3 enabled CO2 removal overnight.

CO2 desorption was the main mechanism of carbon removal from photobioreactor.

Temperature decrease during dark-time enhanced CO2 absorption.


The use of biogas for grid injection or vehicle fuel requires purification steps to obtain biomethane, process normally called biogas upgrading. The use of microalgae cultures has been proposed as a new alternative for CO2 removal from biogas. Full-scale systems for biogas upgrading using microalgae should be able to deal with natural existing day/night photoperiods. This research evaluated the effect of a light/dark photoperiod on the operation of a photosynthetic biogas upgrading system, at lab-scale conditions. A system based on an open-photobioreactor connected to a mass transfer column was used for that purpose. Using a continuous biogas flow, an upgraded biogas with a CO2 concentration between 2 and 4.5% was obtained throughout light and dark periods. O2 concentrations below 1% in final biogas were observed. Mass balances showed that CO2 desorption was the main process behind CO2 removal. CO2 removal during the dark phase was possible, under the tested conditions, as a result of inorganic carbon desorption from the photobioreactor and accumulation in the liquid phase.


  • Biogas upgrading;
  • Biomethane;
  • CO2 removal;
  • Microalgae;
  • Photoperiod

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