Smart-BioreAl: Innovative cultivation of the unicellular green alga Chlorella vulgaris in a”smart” photobioreactor using micro-bubble technology as part of a “bluecircular economy

The project intends to create, use and share state of the art knowledge in the cultivation of Chlorellavulgaris in an innovative low-cost photobioreactor (PBR) using micro-bubble technology. Emphasis will begiven on exploiting resources that are not used by conventional agriculture, e.g., brackish water and urbanwaste. This approach increases the diversity, sustainability, and quality of aquaculture products byreducing their environmental footprint (blue circular economy).The innovations will be combined to create C. vulgaris cultivation protocols for optimal growth andproduction of the desired chemical components for their use in nutrition, fish feed,cosmetics/pharmaceuticals and the production of biofuels (biodiesel, bioethanol, hydrogen) are: (a)construction of a low-cost “semi-closed-cascade” PBR to achieve the maximum absorption and utilizationof photosynthetic irradiance, with minimal contamination; (b) adding a CO2 or other CO2-rich gaseouspollutants micro-bubbles device for sequestration of CO2 in the crop and minimize its diffusion into theatmosphere. In this way, the maximum speed of photosynthetic conversion of solar radiation into organicmatter is increased, resulting a steep rise in productivity; (c) the exploitation of gaseous pollutants of an internal combustion engine contributing to the mitigation of the environmental footprint of industry; (d) theexploitation of brackish water and secondarily treated sewage water; (e) comparative PBR function (controlvs. pollutant recycling conditions) for estimating their operating costs.Well-known high-tech and academic Research teams of complementary research objects will collaborate,aiming to: a) optimize at laboratory-scale the cultivation of C. vulgaris in brackish salinities, differentirradiance flux-rates, different concentrations of CO2 and different concentrations of urban waste water(Department of Biology, University of Crete), b) optimize at PBR-scale the cultivation of C. vulgaris ingreenhouse on the basis of laboratory results and analysis of biomass quality (ELGO-DIMITRA, INALE);(c) create a micro-bubble device for the diffusion of CO2 and air pollutants in the growth medium (TEIKAVALAS, Subcontractor); and (d) innovate in computational processing and dissemination of data in inthe context of an analysis of the cost of FBA operation (RC ATHENA / ILSP Xanthi)