[Global] High-quality glass tubing from SCHOTT maximizes production cycles in cultivating algae and allows for higher yields using a continuous process. Its robustness and cleanliness extend the lifespan of these systems by multiple factors. At the same time, it drives down the costs.
Microalgae, a billion euro market
Microalgae offer the industry an interesting future market. These green unicellular organisms can convert light into biomass five times more efficiently than land plants. They are rich in valuable ingredients and are very versatile, for example, as a food supplement or in the field of cosmetics, food and feed, biofuel, fertilizer and even as ingredient substances for drugs. The market volume of algae production has already exceeded the one billion US dollar mark and continues to grow fast.
The Austrian company Ecoduna produces and harvests different algae as Chlorella or Spirulina, a blue-green algae used for dietary supplements and animal feeds, in vertical photobioreactors.
Ecoduna recently changed its production technology from plastic panels to SCHOTT glass tubes 65 mm in diameter. Glass tubes require less cleaning and therefore incur less downtime, yet generate the same biomass output. After switching to glass tubing at its Austrian plant in June, Ecoduna’s photobioreactors ran continuously and thus simultaneously increased output while driving down operating costs.
Algae manufacturers are increasingly replacing plastic with glass components in their photobioreactors due to how easy glass is to clean, its strength and its clarity – important parameters that affect output and cost for large scale algae production. The material’s longevity is also one of its key advantages. Ecoduna says it used to plan to replace plastic plates about every ten years, but the 50-year lifespan of glass tubing makes a full system replacement far less of a concern.
Ecoduna’s world-patented vertical photobioreactors, which eliminate pumps and where CO2 and nutrients are introduced continuously at the bottom of the photobioreactor, are highly efficient and guarantee maximum purity. However, on the walls of the plastic panels biofilms accumulate that require frequent cleaning, leading to regular shutting down of the production systems. Because SCHOTT’s high-quality, round DURANR glass tubing has a smooth inner surface, biofilm formation is strongly reduced, and it is practically self-cleaning, which extends production to a near-continuous process. The cleanliness of the glass allows the system to run on a continuous industrial scale, making cultivation possible 365 days of the year.
Higher output – Lower costs
“Bacteria are algae’s enemies, and the scratches that are common on the inside of plastic tubing after many cleaning cycles make the perfect breeding ground for those enemies. The robustness of SCHOTT’s glass tubing makes the photobioreactor strong without the risk of contamination,” said Johann Morwald, CEO of Ecoduna.
Ecoduna plans to use glass tubing at its new production facility in Austria and in a facility it runs with a partner in Denmark. As commercial algae producers work to improve biomass yields and harvests, it’s clear that the hardware in photobioreactors plays a critical role in algae growth. Glass tubing has proven to be effective in both horizontal and vertical photobioreactors, and its robustness and cleanliness extend the lifespan of these systems by multiple factors. SCHOTT will continue to work with companies like Ecoduna in the future to find ways to improve system efficiencies, boost algae growth, and increase biomass yields.
For more information, please visit: http://www.schott.com/pbr
Mrs. Jasmin Rügamer
Business Unit Tubing
Hattenbergstr. 10, 55122 Mainz, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)6131/66-3815
Mobile: +49 (0)160/4682778
Tubing SCHOTT AG Erich-Schott-Strasse 14 95666 Mitterteich Germany Phone +49 (0)9633/80-0 Fax +49 (0)9633/80-614 firstname.lastname@example.org