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A photobioreactor (PBR) differs from an open pond in that the algae enclosed in a transparent vessel, which can be as simple as a greenhouse, but, more generally, is a tubular, bag-type or panel design, in many shapes and sizes, oriented vertically or horizontally. Some systems even use additional artificial light to help boost production, and a few rely exclusively on artificial lights.
One of main advantages of PBRs is that they can better match the ideal conditions and growth requirements of particular types of algae not easily grown in open ponds. They can also prevent, or at least reduce, invasion by weed algae, zooplankton grazers and other organisms that could affect the cultures.
UCSD’s Dr. Mitchell gives a lesson in algae 101
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