Integration of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC) on photobioreactors for improved photoconversion efficiency in microalgal cultivation


A combined PV-PBR is proposed to overcome the energy requirement of microalgae production.

Under photosaturating irradiances the presence of PV increases biomass productivity.

Under day-night light no losses of biomass production are observed due to PV cover.

The light spectrum transmitted by DSC with D35 dye is suitable for growth.

The combined PV-PBR system is more efficient in term of total energy conversion.


Outdoor industrial-scale microalgae cultivation is limited by several factors, among which a low efficiency of overall light energy conversion plays a key role, mainly due to photosaturation and photoinhibition under high irradiations. This work aims at improving the overall photoconversion efficiency in a microalgal production photobioreactor (PBRs), by exploiting an advanced photovoltaic (PV) technology. A semi-transparent dye sensitized solar cells module (DSC) is placed on the irradiated surface, thus absorbing part of the incident light to produce electricity, while transmitted photons are used by algal cells for photosynthesis. Experiments are carried out in a continuous laboratory scale flat-panel PBR, at different constant light intensities and under a day-night irradiation regime, to ascertain the performances of this combined PV-PBR system in terms of biomass productivity and overall photoconversion efficiency, compared to traditional transparent PBRs. The results obtained show that the configuration proposed, combining biomass production with innovative photovoltaics technology, could be a valuable way to improve light energy utilization and efficiency in microalgal production.


  • Scenedesmus obliquus;
  • Continuous photobioreactor;
  • Photovoltaics;
  • Photoinhibition;
  • Light spectrum;
  • Dye solar cell

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