The growth of Chlorella vulgaris in open pond aquatic conditions poses serious challenges due to the interplay of both physico-chemical and biotic factors. We report here the monitoring of physico-chemical and biotic parameters affecting the propagation of C. vulgaris seed culture for inoculation of a large scale raceway pond (300 000 L capacity) in South Africa. The C. vulgarisstrain used for this purpose was isolated from a wastewater maturation pond and characterized for its potential for biomass and lipid production. The isolate was grown aseptically in 4 × 25 L aspirator bottles in BG-11 medium under ambient laboratory conditions and the culture was supplied with filtered air and exposed to 200 µmol photons per m2 per second using Gro-Lux agricultural fluorescent lights. The culture was transferred to a 500 L capacity portable pool under open conditions. This pond was used to further inoculate 3 more portable ponds. Physico-chemical and biotic growth parameters were monitored on a daily basis in the three ponds. The over reliance on fossil fuels will have a major impact on power supply in the near future if renewable sources of energy are not developed at a fast pace. The developed inoculum was subsequently used to inoculate an open raceway pond for large scale biomass production for biodiesel production.
Key words: Biodiesel, biomass, inoculum, lipid, raceway pond, seed culture.
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