Cawthron develops new Photobioreactor system

A smart new piece of technology, designed and built at Nelson’s Cawthron Institute, will help a growing Nelson business…

Cawthron is a world leader in microalgae and algal technologies particularly in harmful algal blooms and extraction of high-value compounds from algae.

It works alongside a number of New Zealand biotechnology companies and its expertise is helping keep New Zealand at the forefront of the global biotechnology industry.

A team of scientists including mathematicians, engineers and biologists have helped develop a new multi-vessel photobioreactor (PBR) over the past three years.

“We developed this technology in response to industry partners’ needs to rapidly optimise growth conditions and uses for algal product development. It will help advance their operations so they can remain at the forefront of international markets,” Cawthron scientist Mike Packer said.

“We are now focusing on using this new photobioreactor to develop high-value products for our clients and optimising their processes.”

At Cawthron, scientists use PBRs to trial algal growth models which can then be scaled up for commercial use by industry partners.

“We specialise in PBR technology and have them in many different shapes and sizes but none as capable as this,” Packer said.

“This new system speeds up our ability to gather information so we can understand how to make the algae grow better and how conditions affect behaviour so it produces desirable molecules such as bioactives, antioxidants, cosmetic and key nutritional ingredients used by the nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, biotechnology and aquaculture sectors.”

One of Cawthron’s clients is nutraceutical company Supreme Biotechnologies, which grows and extracts the high-value algae compound astaxanthin on a commercial scale for the global market.

Supreme Biotechnologies chief executive Tony Dowd said: “We are excited about this development by the Cawthron and we’re keen to utilise their expertise and equipment to optimise our algae growth on a commercial scale.”


View original article at: Biotech product aids industry

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