Sustainable biomass production is expected to be one of the major supporting pillars for future energy supply, as well as for renewable material provision. Algal beds represent an exciting resource for biomass/biofuel, fine chemicals and CO2 storage. Similar to other solar energy harvesting techniques, the efficiency of algal photosynthesis depends on the spectral overlap between solar irradiation and chloroplast absorption. Here we demonstrate that spectral conversion can be employed to significantly improve biomass growth and oxygen production rate in closed-cycle algae reactors. For this purpose, we adapt a photoluminescent phosphor of the type Ca0.59Sr0.40Eu0.01S, which enables efficient conversion of the green part of the incoming spectrum into red light to better match the Qy peak of chlorophyll b. Integration of a Ca0.59Sr0.40Eu0.01S backlight converter into a flat panel algae reactor filled with Haematococcus pluvialis as a model species results in significantly increased photosynthetic activity and algae reproduction rate.

Together with colleagues from the University of Erlangen and the Bavarian Center for Applied Research, we have recently published an original research article on “Solar spectral conversion for improving the photosynthetic activity in algae reactors” (Nature Comm., doi: 10.1038/ncomms3047, 2013).