SCHOTT, Algatechnologies seek link between glass tubing geometry and algae growth efficiency

[USA, Israel] SCHOTT and Algatechnologies Ltd. (Algatech), a commercial algae producer and one of the largest manufacturer of natural astaxanthin, have partnered once again to measure the efficiency of glass tubing in photobioreactor (PBR) production systems. By outfitting three PBR systems with distinct glass tubes that vary only in diameter and shape, Algatech and SCHOTT want to determine how the geometry of the tubing impacts algae yields.

A year ago, the two companies signed an R&D agreement to study glass tubing’s influence on algae production, as part of that arrangement, SCHOTT and Algatech proved that thin-walled DURAN® glass tubes significantly improve cultivation efficiency in the yields of Algatech’s AstaPure® natural astaxanthin.

Currently, Algatech and SCHOTT developed an outside test stand to identify the ideal tubing geometry for photobioreactors.

The test will be run simultaneously in three test PBRs, each equipped with vertically oriented round and oval glass tubing; all tubes are made of SCHOTT DURAN® glass. The current trial is done outdoors to mimic real life production environment.

“Algae has uses in dozens of industries, from nutraceuticals to cosmetics, but the understanding of how to produce them efficiently still contains unanswered questions,” said Raz Rashelbach, CTO at Algatech.

“We know thin-walled tubing increases algae yields, but what is the best diameter and cross sectional shape for the tubing? Answering these questions will likely further increase the efficiency of algae growth, and result in higher product yields”

Using computer simulations, SCHOTT estimated the absorption of sunlight of each tube geometry in preparation for the upcoming tests. The simulations show that oval tubes absorption can be advantageous when compared to traditional round tubing. In this trial Algatech intends to verify the simulated advantages of oval tubes for use in PBR production systems.

“This is an ambitious experiment with the potential to set a new baseline for future algae production in glass tube PBRs,” said Nikolaus Schultz, PBR Designer at SCHOTT Research and Development. “The results will likely provide options for a more efficient and cost-effective algae production in this growing industry. We’ve already seen strong performances from our glass tubing, but projects like this will help us to further optimize closed PBRs.”

Preliminary results of the experiment should be available in the fall.


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