Swimming microalgae show various taxes, such as phototaxis and gravitaxis, which sometimes result in the formation of a cell-rich layer or a patch in a suspension. Despite intensive studies on the effects of shear flow and turbulence on the inhomogeneous distribution of microalgae, the effect of a bubble plume has remained unclear. In this study, we used Chlamydomonas as model microalgae, and investigated the spatial distribution of cells in a cylindrical container with a bubble plume. The results illustrate that cells become inhomogeneously distributed in the suspension due to their motility and photo-responses. A vortical ring distribution was observed below the free surface when the bubble flow rate was sufficiently small. We performed a scaling analysis on the length scale of the vortical ring, which captured the main features of the experimental results. These findings are important in understanding transport phenomena in a microalgae suspension with a bubble plume.
- Biofluid mechanics
- Flow visualization