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Convolutional neural network regression for low-cost microalgal density estimation
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  • Linh Nguyen ,
  • Dung K. Nguyen ,
  • Truong X. Nghiem ,
  • Thang Nguyen
Linh Nguyen
Federation University Australia

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Dung K. Nguyen
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Truong X. Nghiem
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Thang Nguyen
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Density of microalgae is critical information for production of algae in a closed cultivation system since it can be used to optimally control their growth rate, biomass concentration and quality of the products. Given advancement in image processing techniques and thanks to low-cost camera sensors, image based methods are increasingly widely utilized to indirectly estimate the density. Advantages of the image based techniques include being less invasive and more nondestructive and biosecured. However, most of the existing techniques rely on averaging all pixels of a microalgae image, which may eliminate crucial information of their spatial correlation. Therefore, in this work we propose to exploit a convolutional neural network (CNN) to efficiently extract information from the microalgae images, which are then employed to regress the density. Interestingly, the proposed deep CNN regression model accepts the whole color image as its input while the density is calculated in the output. The proposed CNN regression architecture was validated in real-world experiments where the microalgal strain Chlorella vulgaris was cultured and their images were captured by our low-cost camera sensor system. The obtained results demonstrate that the averaged estimation accuracy of the proposed model is 0.55\% (+/- 0.68\%) while the R2 value between the density predictions and the ground truths is 0.9997, which is highly accurate and practical.