Project: Artificial Light Photobioreactor

The present project aims at making available a microalgae cultivation equipment insuring the transition between laboratory and industry, equipment still lacking today to meet a growing demand. The market sectors addressed are dermo beauty-care and nutritional complements now, health, food, feed, bulk chemistry, energy, and environment. These worldwide markets are estimated more than 7.5 billion € per annum now, and it is likely to be multiplied by 4 in the next few years. _x000D__x000D_The aquatic environments still conceal many treasures. At the base of the trophic chains, microalgae implement original physiological and biochemical strategies to adapt to all the surface environments. They are the biosynthetic progenitors of most of the natural substances of aquatic origin. Their biodiversity, one of the most important of the planet with between 200 000 and 1 million species, makes of them a new economical frontier in the various fields cited. _x000D__x000D_Yet, the industry still faces important issues in cultivating the major part of the species. As for all micro-organisms, their supply could only be secured by cultivation, which is not obvious in most cases and in particular for delicate species, such as those bearing appendices and/or forming chains. So far, the world bulk production concerns 4 to 5 species of microalgae, which is nothing as compared to the 15 000 species available in the world public culture collections. If the delicate species can be cultivated in the ideal care conditions of the laboratory, there is a lack of technology able to produce them in mass, which hinders their development whereas there is a growing need for new species._x000D__x000D_The amplification of the biomass up to mass production volumes is performed according to a step by step increase of monoalgal or hopefully monoseptic culture volumes, a step being inoculated by the preceding. The microbial population is cropped in a batch or continuous process. In the last case, the concentration is COtained steady by dilution/harvesting for weeks or even months. The last amplification step is carried out in tanks, ponds, fermentors and closed PBRs. The present project refers to the penultimate stage. It tackles the challenge by developing a unique process and machinery meeting the requirements of the industry in terms of yield and purity. _x000D__x000D_The ALP photobioreactor (PBR) will supply preparative amounts of biomass of microalgae with complete mastering of the culture conditions. The culture parameters will be regulated to optimise the production of biomass and/or metabolites during continuous runs. With low bubbles and velocities, this equipment will make possible the culture of the most delicate species. To reach this aim, the design will be down-scaled from an already validated industrial PBR. R&D work is still required on various aspects, in particular artificial light, optical wall wiping, and cleaning in place. _x000D__x000D_The deliverable of the project is a pre-series prototype producing high quality biomass of delicate microalgae at a rate of ca. 50 g DW (dry weight) per day and per module. The project duration is 30 months, for a total cost of 665 621 €._x000D__x000D_INFORS HT, Swiss SME, is the leader of the project. The second participant is the French SME, MICROPHYT. _x000D_INFORS HT is a major constructor of equipment for biotechnology laboratories. It has been constructing equipment for applications involving photosynthesis for over 25 years and has an unrivalled depth of experience. The requirements for production of microalgae are very similar to those INFORS HT implements in its bioreactors. They can be fully sterilised, operated aseptically, cleaned in place and capable of linking to downstream processing systems. _x000D__x000D_MICROPHYT develops and operates innovative technologies for the mass production of microalgae. The chairman of MICROPHYT, a former researcher at IFREMER (French Research Institute for the exploration of the sea), initiated the development of this PBR concept 20 years ago. _x000D__x000D_ALP will contribute to extend the cultivable species to a larger part of the biodiversity which is COly constituted of slow growing and delicate species. At the same time, ALP will also be useable for intermediary amplifications, especially for inoculating larger production units. _x000D__x000D_The Ps aim to sell about 20 ALP units within the next 5 years after the end of the project. The global average turnover generated for the 2 Ps on this period is estimated around 3 M€. The sale force of INFORS HT, which is distributed worldwide, will allow the Pship to reach these objectives. The market demand has already been formalized by declarations of interest of major laboratories and industrial players provided in the attached Technical Annex._x000D__x000D_ALP has been labelled by the three French clusters TRIMATEC, Capénergies and Mer PACA, as it fits their strategic axis related to the production and promotion of microalgae industry. _x000D_

Acronym ALP2 (Reference Number: 7283)
Duration 01/01/2013 - 29/02/2016
Project Topic ALP aims at developing and validating an off-the-shelf modular Artificial Light Photobioreactor and associated processes to produce high quality microalgae in sufficient quantities to meet the current requirements of Research and Industry to investigate new microalgae industrial applications.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 8

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 MICROPHYT SAS Partner France
2 INFORS HT AG Coordinator Switzerland