Photobioreactors

IGV Biotech's photobioreactors are based on a patented solution using horizontally structured glass tubes. Using glass as the material for the photoactive facility part has the benefit (as compared to other materials) that

  • thin layers of algae suspension receive optimal light,
  • optimised surfaces prevent the immobilisation of algae,
  • other materials cannot reach the light transmission levels of glass,
  • required pumping energy is kept to a minimum by the surface which allows for a smooth flow
  • and glass tubes last for 10 or more years.

The closed construction of our photobioreactors also allows excellent control of relevant process parameters, such as temperature or pH, which is not possible to this degree in open systems. This makes it possible to imitate the natural growth conditions of the various microalgae species and obtain optimal production results.

Scaling of photobioreactors

The structure of industrial photobioreactors is the backbone of economical microalgae production. The horizontal glass tube reactors are the only technical concept which was thus far successfully implemented in actually produced closed microalgae facilities. IGV Biotech's photobioreactors basically have the same construction from the laboratory scale to the industrial production scale:

In our photobioreactors, the algae suspension is evenly transported into the tube modules, which are made from glass tubes, by the system pump. Here, the algae are supplied with artificial light on the laboratory and pilot scales, and with natural sunlight on the scales above them. The CO2 which the algae need to grow is dosed in ahead of the tube modules, making it possible to feed the algae precisely. In the return flow, the algae are carried to a central supply unit where the algae suspension is homogenised, and produced oxygen is removed. The sensors to record the culture parameters are installed here, as well as a process control system. The facility cycle starts again from here. For harvesting, the culture suspension can be removed and sent to a subsequent harvesting and preparation process.
Using this relatively simple basic structure, we can react flexibly to customer requirements. Mobile pilot systems can be built just as efficiently as complete, fixedly installed new structures in greenhouses or outdoors. The space saving vertical construction of the tube modules permits the maximum volumetric load of the base area, while the use of resistant materials in all facility parts also makes it possible to use corrosive media such as salt water.

Aside from approaches to use microalgae as an alternative to crude oil, the pharma sector and molecular biotechnology are placing expanded demands on photobioreactor technology. The attributes of some algae species of forming especially anticarcinogenic, antiviral or antibacterial active substances must be matched to the high technical requirements of the GMP and FDA guidelines.
IGV Biotech’s new sterile photobioreactor series „GTS“ is precisely matched to the needs of this new Life Sciences sector. The GTS series complies with the requirements of current guidelines and is therefore licensed for pharmacological research and production, as well as cultivation of genetically altered microorganisms (GMOs). The GTS series also offers the following options:

  • Fundamentally different cultivation modes: phototrophic, mixotrophic and heterotrophic
  • Production of axenic starter culture or inoculum
  • System volume of 4 to 100 litres in the proven glass tube design
  • Safe and reliable design of all parts affected by steam sterilisation
  • High-end process control system with secured logging, protocol and data exchange functions (in cooperation with bbi biotech GmbH)