The feasibility of the green alga Desmodesmus communis for biomass production was investigated, firstly testing different nitrogen forms in the growth medium and the effect of CO2-enriched air supply, secondarily scaling up the cultivation system in 70 L photobioreactors (PBRs). Maximum nitrogen uptake rate obtained in the performed kinetic experiment was higher for ammonium than for nitrate (188.0 vs 11.7 μmol g−1 h−1); however, D. communis cultured in PBRs with only aeration grew faster with nitrate reaching a biomass yield (1.23 g L−1) and a productivity (0.036 g L−1 day−1) about twofold higher than with ammonium, which caused a pH decrease in the medium affecting the algal growth. CO2 supply allowed algal growth optimization, maintaining a high productivity with both nitrogen sources, slightly higher with nitrate (0.050 vs 0.038 g L−1 day−1). Additionally, nitrate-supplied cells showed higher lipids (19.0 vs 9.4%) and proteins (33.0 vs 27.2%) values than those grown with ammonium. The semi-continuous scaled-up cultivation performed for 5 months attests the potential utilization of this species for valuable algal biomass production exploitable in various industrial applications.
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