Development of large-scale microalgae production in the Middle East

Akihiko Hirayama*, Mark N. Sueyoshi, Takashi Nakano, Yuki Ota, Hiroyuki Kurita, Masaharu Tasaki, Yoichi Kuroiwa, Takahiro Kato, Sadayoshi Serizawa, Keisuke Kojima, Rashid S. Al-Maamari, Takeshi Hasegawa, Skye R. Thomas-Hall, Peer M. Schenk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Microalgae in the Middle East can theoretically address food security without competing for arable land, but concerns exist around scalability and durability of production systems under the extreme heat. Large-scale Chlorella sorokiniana production was developed in outdoor raceway ponds in Oman and monitored for 2 years to gather data for commercial production. Biological and technical challenges included construction, indoor/outdoor preculturing, upscaling, relating productivity to water temperature and meteorological conditions, harvesting, drying, and quality control. Small cultivation systems required cooling for initial scale-up, but, despite maximum temperatures of 49.7 °C, water temperatures were at acceptable levels by evaporative cooling in larger raceway ponds. Contamination with Vampirovibrio chlorellavorus was identified by 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing and addressed by culture replacement. Productivities ranged from 8 to 30 g-dry weight m-2d-1, with estimated annual productivity of 16 g-dry weight m-2d-1 as functions of solar intensity and water temperature, confirming that the region is suitable for commercial microalgae production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126036
JournalBioresource Technology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Chlorella sorokiniana
  • Large-scale microalgae production
  • Outdoor raceway ponds
  • Photobioreactor
  • Water temperature control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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