The original concept behind the development of the algae bioreactor was to maximise the productivity of algae; whether for the production of algal biomass and algal oil for downstream processing to hydrocarbon fuels, or speciality high value chemicals such as omega-3 oils and nutraceuticals.
The concept was simple:
Coupled with proven technology for algae harvesting and downstream process, the algae bio-refinery concept was born.
The development of the algae Photo-Bic¬Reactor (PER) builds upon decades of research and development undertaken by researches in European universities, In more recent years as the importance of algae as a solution to the global challenges for the production of food, energy and for the sequestration of C02, further development has also been undertaken with application in the USA.
The challenge faced by many developing algae production process is how to grow the algae efficiently. Whilst algae grow naturally in ambient conditions and undergo photosynthesis (which absorbs C02 and stores the energy as carbohydrates — biomass and hydrocarbons - oils), the growth is limited by a number of factors; The availability of sunlight for photosynthesis, control and maintenance of temperature, and the supply of essential trace nutrients (including C02) are just some of the issues.
Through decades of research, the know how for the growth of algae has been established, providing the foundation for the industrialisation of the process. The application of cutting-edge engineering and biotechnology, have led to the development of an algae PER, able to apply best industrial practice to create and control the optimal conditions for the successful and continual growth of a variety of micro-algae.
The Algae Photo-Blo-Reactor (PER) incorporates the key feature and technologies to enable the optimal growth conditions for algae to be created and controlled. The simple modular configuration ensures that projects and applications are not constrained, and that the optimal solution can be easily configured and applied.
It also allows for the existing system to be easily and quickly modified, at minimal cost should circumstances change. The concept has therefore created a PER which is the system of choice for algae researchers and producers alike.
The PBR uses the latest available LED lighting technology to provide the algae with the optimal light conditions. Whilst artificial lighting has previously been used in the growth of algae, the systems have not been specifically configured to suit the algae, resulting in light wavelengths being generated that are not utilised by the algae for growth. Not only does this waste energy, it also generates heat which subsequently requires cooling systems to control the temperature of the bio-reactor. Our research has focused upon the optimization of the light to best meet the requirements of the algae. Optimization studies discovered that light energy is not continuously absorbed by the algae, and the light photon-receptors are only active for approximately 10% of the time. Further more, they can only absorb certain light wavelengths, therefore by synchronising the light emitter to the algae requirement, the growth of algae is controlled and energy wastage is negated, maximising the efficiency of the system.