Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering


Michael Peterson

Second Committee Member

Robert Bayer

Third Committee Member

Senthil Vel


Micro-algae has excellent potential in aquaculture as it is of interest to aquaculture farming facilities for the feed of mollusks and other marine species. Micro-algae cultures are grown in photobioreactors under controlled culture conditions using light to promote photosynthesis. Currently photobioreactors on the market are not suitable for the scale of aquaculture farming. This thesis covers the design, build, and testing of a 1650 liter (435 gallon), food safe, marine photobioreactor (PBR) for oyster feed. The current design in this thesis provides a reasonable basis for a more complete system that incorporates autonomous control and continuous harvesting. A significant effort will be required to optimize production in this complex marine bio environment. The PBR design is tested with the growth of a Tetraselmis culture while culture cell density and other parameters including temperature and pH are monitored for the duration of the test. The PBR is successful in sustaining a culture to 250,000 cells/ml. Results of the growth trial are used to modify the lighting conditions in the PBR which will support an updated design capable of 1,000,000 cells/ml.