Interview session with Henk de Waard, CEO of NanoVoltaics, Inc.

[USA] Located in the desert city of Phoenix, Arizona, NanoVoltaics, Inc. (NVI) is one of the first companies in the United States specializing in the field of photobioreactor design and construction of algae cultivation systems.

Henk de Waard, founder and CEO of NVI, ventured into the algae industry in the year 2007. NVI is lead designer of several well-known algae cultivation facilities in the United States, including the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) National Testbed located at Arizona State University’s polytechnic campus. This multimillion dollar facility is a state-of-the-art research testbed focused on the research necessary for the production and commercialization of algae and its related products.

Algae farm designed by Nanovaltaics
Algae farm designed by Nanovaltaics

In 2007, with more than 20 years of experience developing new technologies and designing production systems for the semiconductor equipment industry, Henk saw the potential of the algae industry and decided to focus on the design of photobioreactor systems for algae growth.

During the interview, Henk generously shared his experience as a completely new start-up in those early days. He mentioned that as limited references were available, they designed and built almost everything from scratch. Currently, there are a number of algae cultivation facilities in the United States based on NVI’s work. Most of the unique features of the cultivation systems that they built were also based on customer’s request. (Click to view the complete portfolio of NVI)

“At the time, for us equipment designers it was a rather risky move to venture into this new algae field with which we were not familiar. However, we managed to solve the technical challenges that stumped some other photobioreactor engineers.” said Henk.

NVI’s mini-raceway ponds, offered under the trade-name Seahorse,TM are compact raceway pond systems for algae research and production scale-up.
NVI’s mini-raceway ponds, offered under the trade-name Seahorse,TM are compact raceway pond systems for algae research and production scale-up.

Throughout the years, NVI has installed many different types of algae cultivation systems for both algae researchers and producers in the United States. Unlike other system providers that focus on providing only one specific type of photobioreactor, NVI’s algae cultivation systems portfolio includes both small and large raceways ponds, as well as tubular and columnar photobioreactors.

“We provide innovative, custom-designed, turn-key production solutions that maximize yield and enable low-cost production.” said Henk.

The NautilusTM Columnar Photobioreactor for pilot production
The NautilusTM Columnar Photobioreactor for pilot production

With a broad range of cultivation system and services, NVI serves producers of biofuels, food, feed and nutraceuticals from algae, who are dissatisfied with the low yield and high cost of currently available algae production system.

Unlike conventional production systems, such as standard raceway ponds and photobioreactors, NVI’s algae cultivation systems are highly engineered and scalable, based on proprietary technology, to maximize areal productivity at the lowest cost of ownership.

NVI also partner with their customers, providing equipment engineering and design expertise, while the customers provide applicatio-specific biotechnological expertise. In many cases, NVI’s customer relationships go beyond the traditional customer-vendor relationships and are akin to long-term partnerships which result in co-creation of value and innovative products. This business model has allowed NVI to become reputable, highly-recommended, and standing out among its competitors.


Photo: NVI’s  patented flat plate-type photobioreactor was designed from the ground up to provide optimum light exposure and aeration, while minimizing the capital costs and operational costs.

Exclusively reported by ALGAE WORLD NEWS

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