Algal energy production

Microalgae have truly remarkable shapes and sizes. They all have their own special adaptations and unique features. Nonetheless, their energy utilisation seems to be well correlated to their size. Today, the idea of using these fast-growing, ultra-efficient cells as tiny solar panels to generate an end product has received much attention, but without much luck. Determining how size affects the ability of a cell to generate energy is key to understanding the most efficient way for microalgal production.

In this study, we took more than 20 different species of marine microalgae and we looked at their energy use (respiration), energy production (photosynthesis) and their daily net-energy production (photosynthesis during the day, minus respiration at night). After accounting for light intensity and population densities, we presented size-scaling relationships clearly showing the role of body size in the energy production of an algal species.


Ecology (2017)

Size-scaling of energy use in marine phytoplankton