Significantly higher productivity: Europe’s largest producer of algae-based omega-3 switched to SCHOTT Glass Tubes
ecoduna AG has developed the technology for the largest European photobioreactor in which algae for the production of omega-3 fatty acids are cultivated. Initially, the Austrian company used plastic components as breeding containers for the algae. However, this led to various problems.
THE CHALLENGE: BIOFILM AND MATERIAL WEAR
The most serious problem came as the plastic containers aged, allowing algae to settle very quickly and form biofilm. The more biofilm that forms in a reactor, the worse its productivity. Why? Less and less light penetrates the reactor, slowing down photosynthesis. Biofilm can be removed – but since cleaning requires chemical and mechanical means, the production process has to be interrupted each time.
ecoduna therefore became interested in whether glass tubes from SCHOTT could solve its problems. Johann Mörwald, ecoduna CEO at the time, commented: »Bacteria are algae’s enemies, and the scratches that are common on the inside of the plastic surface after many cleaning cycles make for the perfect breeding ground for those enemies. Thanks to the robustness of SCHOTT’s glass tubing, the photobioreactors offer consistently good production conditions without the risk of contamination.« Dr. Silvia Fluch, ecoduna COO, points out that using plastic is also not particularly friendly to the environment. And that is one of ecoduna’s highest priorities:
THE RESULT: HIGHER YIELDS AT LOWER COSTS
Biofilm is a much smaller problem for ecoduna since its switch from plastic to glass and its new geometry. The photobioreactors have been running continuously since then. For the company, this means higher yields and lower operating costs. The longevity of glass is also one of its key advantages. ecoduna says it used to plan to replace the plastic elements about every ten years. Now, thanks to an estimated 50-year lifespan of the glass tubing, having to replace the entire system is far less of a concern. Johann Karmel, ecoduna CEO, sees big cost advantages for ecoduna as a result of the material change-over: »Using glass tubing in our ‘hanging gardens’ has proven to be a smart investment that lowers our operating expenses and practically eliminates replacement costs.« And Dr. Silvia Fluch is also very pleased with the results. ecoduna has developed an outstanding technology with its vertical glass tube PBR that allows extremely productive algae cultivation:
Learn more about the challenges, considerations and experiences of ecoduna when changing to the SCHOTT system.
Read the complete case story: Case-Story – Higher productivity with SCHOTT