Major innovations for glass photobioreactors that have greater productivity and lower costs in the case of algae cultivation [Free Guide]
In the last five years, photobioreactors (PBRs) made of glass have seen significant improvements through a variety of innovations. Be it through improved production processes combined with lower costs. On the one hand, standardized PBR components lead to increased productivity. On the other hand, improved system design of the reactor leads to new heights in productivity rates. In the following, we briefly present the most important innovations and their benefits:
Reduced wall thickness leads to higher output
Various PBR field tests have shown that the thickness of the glass wall has influence on the PBR‘s productivity. In recent years, improved glass manufacturing processes have made it possible to further reduce the wall thickness.
SCHOTT Tubing and a partner in Israel tested the output of a 16 kilometer long tubular PBR with a reduced wall thickness of 1.8mm for one year and compared these results with a PBR with a 2.5mm wall thickness. The result: tubing with the same outer diameter but with a reduced wall thickness of 1.8mm lead to 10% more output (Heamatococcus Pluvialis was cultivated during the test).
Longer tubing segments lead to less biofouling
The longer the tubing that is installed in a PBR, the lower the overall amount of tubes required in order reduced to reach a certain total volume. This also means that less tubes have to be connected to one another, which reduces the probability of leakage. Moreover, it reduces the risk of biofilm forming because every additional connection and the corresponding couplings offer minute gaps, i.e. spaces that are more susceptible to fouling.
Due to improvements in the glass tubing manufacturing processes, it is now possible to produce high quality in very long lengths. Using such tubing can help operators reduce the number of required connectors and therefore reduce the risk of biofouling.
High quality tube connectors for safe operation
The individual tubing segments in a PBR have to be connected securely to one another. In recent years, improved professional couplings made of special polymers for the use in PBR systems have become available.
They are quickly and easily mounted using a twist to lock mechanism. They can be re-used anytime during a renovation or repair. They are resistant to chemical cleaning agents and do not decay under UV-radiation. Using standardized and precise mounting instructions, you can reduce dead space and thereby limit bacterial spread.
Most importantly: these couplings withstand higher pressures of up to three bar (43.5 psi)
Fully automated production of u-bends and manifolds ensures higher precision
Connecting the vertically or horizontally arranged tubing within a PBR is achieved by using u-bends or manifolds.
To facilitate the assembly process, the individual components being connected must have a tight tolerance in order to achieve proper connection seals.
In the past, u-bends and manifolds were to a large extent manually fabricated, which resulted in larger tolerance limits. Today, these components can be produced in an automated way, leading to a more consistent quality while reducing costs. These precise and tight tolerances facilitate the assembly of a PBR system because all components align properly to the tubing.
Vertically aligned PBRs for higher efficiency and productivity
99% of all PBRs worldwide are built with horizontally oriented tubes, regardless of being helical or fence reactors. In recent years, however, some companies have reaped the exceptional benefits of using PBRs with a vertical orientation: drastically improved productivity rates alongside significantly reduced energy costs.
Contrary to horizontal PBRs, the tubing is tightly aligned side by side in 5.5 meter lengths in a vertical direction. Such a vertical reactor requires no pumps. The energy costs for such pumps when used in a horizontal PBR typically make up 30-40% of the entire algae production costs. Besides saving costs there is an added benefit: the absence of a pump system means the algae is transported in a more carefully. This is why the yield of vertical systems is significantly higher than that of horizontal systems with the same volume.
Consider these technical developments when planning your new glass PBR. This is how you can optimize your PBR: It will be both, productive and more cost effective. If you are eager to learn more about these innovations, we recommend our “Why is a photobioreactor made of high end glass even better today than it was five years ago?”
In this free guide you will find more details and background information about:
- Reduced wall thickness of the glass tubing
- Production of longer length tubing segments
- Introduction of industry grade couplings
- High precision glass u-bends and manifolds
- Vertical system architecture of PBRs
Download your free guide here: Major innovations for glass photobioreactors that have greater productivity and lower costs in the case of algae cultivation