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Industrial production of microalgae biomass with flat-panel airlift photobioreactors

ALGAE 2009, Hamburg

Dr. Peter Ripplinger, Subitec GmbH, Stuttgart

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Subitec GmbH: our company profile Basics of microalgae cultivation Our product: the Flat-Panel Airlift (FPA) Photobioreactor Pilot plants The current situation and future perspectives

Microalgal biotechnology

1. Subitec GmbH: our company profile

Vision

Subitec is revolutionising the use of algae biomass:

On the basis of the globally patented flat-panel airlift photobioreactors, designable algae biomass can for the first time be produced on an industrial scale with a low consumption of resources.

1. Subitec GmbH: our company profile

Company profile

Spin-off of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) in Stuttgart Two patent families regarding the Flat Panel AirliftPhotobioreactors granted worldwide Pilot plants with E.ON Hanse AG (in Hamburg) and EnBW AG (near Stuttgart) since 2008 Numbers of employees: 6

1. Subitec GmbH: our company profile

Products and Services

Systems for the cultivation of microalgae based on 5 L, 30 L und 180 L-FPA photobioreactors R&D partner for biorefinery concepts based on algae biomass Production of algae biomass for the cosmetic and pharma industry and for product development Development of cultivation processes for the production of lipid-rich algae

1. Subitec GmbH: our company profile

Process development for new algae strains

Agar culture

flasks

10L bottles

FPA photobioreactors

50 mL 0 1

200 mL 4

500 mL 6 10

5L 14

30L 16

180L 18 [ time in weeks]

1. Subitec GmbH: our company profile

Customers needs

Roquette Soliance / KD-Pharma Cognis AG Carroux Innovation Scretting, BioMar CO2 Fixation Solvay E.ON AG EnBW AG Vattenfall Europe AG RWE Power AG Infinita Renovables SA

Feed & Food

Bioenergy
Algafluid SA

FairEnergie GmbH

1. Subitec GmbH: our company profile

Prices and market volume of algae products

Price 100 /kg

Pharmaceuticals / Cosmetics

Fine chemicals / Food 10 /kg Protein (Feed) 1 /kg Biomass Energy

Market volume
1. Subitec GmbH: our company profile 9

Positioning along the value chain

Algae production Photobioreactor development Process optimisation Engineering of production facilities

Processing Harvesting/Separation Pulping Extraction Product formulation

Products Pharmaceuticals Cosmetics Dietary supplements Feed Energy

Subitec core competence

Subitec together with industrial partners

Markets

1. Subitec GmbH: our company profile

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Pilot Plant Stuttgart-Vaihingen

Pilot plant of the Subitec GmbH in Stuttgart-Vaihingen (2005)

1. Subitec GmbH: our company profile

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1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Subitec GmbH: our company profile Basics of microalgae cultivation Our product: the Flat-Panel Airlift (FPA) Photobioreactor Pilot plants The current situation and future perspectives

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Why Microalgae?

+ + + + + + -

Productivity per ha is 5 to 10-fold higher than for crops or other plants designable biomass Usage of CO2 from combustion processes Microalgae biomass is free of lignocellulose No competition with the production of food; no use of arable land for the microalgae cultivation Net energy production is possible High capital costs
2. Basics of microalgae cultivation 13

designable algae-biomass

Carbohydrates as energy storage

Lipids

Valuable Pigments Substances

Proteins

growing culture (optimal N/P-supply)

Lipids

Valuable Pigments Substances

Carbohydrates

Lipids as energy storage


Valuable Substances
Proteins

Pigments

Carbohydrate s

Proteins
Lipids

Carbohydrates

2. Basics of microalgae cultivation

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Comparison of different culture systems

Open ponds

Tubular systems low medium/high medium/high high high

Flat-Panel Airlift (FPA) Reactor low high high low medium

Risk of contamination Volumetric productivity Cell density Energy input per volume Capital costs

high low very low low low

2. Basics of microalgae cultivation

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Is net energy production achievable?

Energy content of algae biomass - energy input for cultivation _________________________ Net energy production

???
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2. Basics of microalgae cultivation

Comparison of the energy input per kg DW of different production systems

160 140 120 100


Energy input (MJ/kg ODW)

80 60 40 20 0

Energy content of algae biomass

Raceway pond

tubular PBRs
2. Basics of microalgae cultivation

FPA reactors

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Subitec GmbH: our company profile Basics of microalgae cultivation Our product: the Flat-Panel Airlift (FPA) Photobioreactor Pilot plants The current situation and future perspectives

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Light supply in dense algae cultures


Inhibition 2000 E m-2 s-1 Optimum 400 E m-2 s-1 Limitation 0 E m-2 s-1

Problems: Inhibition of photosythesis Optimal light intensity is 5 to 10fold lower than the natural light intensity Limitation due to dense cultures

Solution: Continous transportation of the algal cells through the different zones Use of the flashing light effect

Light

Cross section of the reactor

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FPA technology
Halfshells of the FPA made from deep-drawn plastic sheets

Process engineering efficient light supply to all cells complete homogenious intermixing low mechanical stress to the cells simple temperature and pH control efficient gas exchange Cost-effectiveness high volumetric productivity high cell densities high reactor volumes low capital and operating costs high reliability

static mixers flow

3. Our product: the Flat-Panel Airlift (FPA) Photobioreactor

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FPA-Reactor, 3rd Generation (2008)

Technical data:

Heights Lengths Thickness

270 cm 175 cm 5 cm

Volume Material

180 l PVC or PETg


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3. Our product: the Flat-Panel Airlift (FPA) Photobioreactor

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Subitec GmbH: our company profile Basics of microalgae cultivation Our product: the Flat-Panel Airlift (FPA) Photobioreactor Pilot plants The current situation and future perspectives

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Pilot Plant Eutingen-Weitingen

Pilot plant of the Subitec GmbH in Eutingen-Weitingen (2008) 4. Pilot plants 23

Pilot plant Eutingen-Weitingen

Owner and operator


Subitec GmbH

Project partner
EnBW AG

Site

Hof Weitenau; Biogas plant in Eutingen-Weitingen

Plant description
Culturing system for microalgae on the basis of 180 Liter Flat-Panel-Airlift Photobioreactors Total volume: 4.13 m (3 modules with 8 reactors each)

Start of operation
2008 4. Pilot plants

Flow chart production module

4. Pilot plants

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Layout of the pilot plant in Eutingen-Weitingen

4. Pilot plants

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Pilot plant in Hamburg-Reitbrook

Customer
E.ON Hanse AG

Site
Erdgasspeicher Hamburg-Reitbrook

Plant description

Culturing system for microalgae on the basis of 180 Liter Flat-Panel-Airlift Photobioreactors Total volume: 1,44 m (2 modules with 4 reactors each)

Scope of services

Planning, construction and technical assistence for the operation of a cultivation system for microalgae Use of flue gas from a CHP

Start of operation
May 2008

4. Pilot plants

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Pilot plant in Reutlingen

Customer
FairEnergie GmbH

Site
Stadtwerke Reutlingen

Plant description

Culturing system for microalgae on the basis of 180 Liter Flat-Panel-Airlift Photobioreactors Total volume: 4.32 m (4 modules with 6 reactors each in a greenhouse)

Scope of services

Planning, construction and technical assistence for the operation of a cultivation system for microalgae Use of flue gas from a CHP

Start of operation
March 2010

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Pilot plant in Spain (180 m, basic engineering)

4. Pilot plants

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A short history of Subitec GmbH Basics of microalgae cultivation Our product: the Flat-Panel Airlift (FPA) Photobioreactor Pilot plants The current situation and future perspectives

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Microalgae cultivated in the FPA reactor


Lab scale Marine algae Isochrysis spec. (clone T.iso) Nannochloropsis oculata Tetraselmis suecica Platymonas subcordiformis max. DW (g/l) 10 13 16 12

Prod. (g DW/l*d) 0,5 1 0,6 0,5

Other algae (sweet water) Chlorella vulgaris Chlorella sorokiniana Eigenisolat DSN 5.1 Haematococcus pluvialis 12 12 16 2,5a 5b Phaeodactylum tricornutum 25d 12e 0,8 1,3 0,7 0,5 0,3 1,5 0,9

5. The current situation and future perspectives

Growth curve of an outdoor cultivation (30 L FPA reactor)

Grow th Curve Phaeodactylum tric. in autumn 2007

inoculation
10 9 8 dry weight [g DW/l] 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1.9.07 8.9.07 15.9.07 22.9.07 Date 29.9.07

production phase
2,50

2,00 vol. productivity [g DW/l* d]

1,50

1,00

0,50

0,00 6.10.07 13.10.07 20.10.07

Dry weight Outdoor cultivation

Productivity

5. The current situation and future perspectives

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Annual productivity in different climate zones

Productivity per ha and year (t ODW / ha*a) Location tropical Mediterranean region central European Stuttgart Productive with 1g days per ODW/l*d year 365 300 240 200 137 113 90 75 with 0,8 g ODW/l*d 110 90 72 60

Estimated for 180 L type of FPA reactor with a 2.5 m distance between rows

Productivity > 100 t ODW / ha


5. The current situation and future perspectives 33

Production costs and capital costs

For a 1 ha plant: capital costs 1,500,000 (25% for FPA photobioreactors) productivity 120 t / ha x year production costs: Depreciation Electricity Nutrients Personnel costs Total (incl. dep.) 2,000 200 1,500 500 4,200 / t ODW / t ODW / t ODW / t ODW / t ODW

For a 100 ha plant: ????


5. The current situation and future perspectives 34

Future tasks work in progress

Temperature control Lowering the energy input for the cultivation process Process automation Optimisation of the FPA photobioreactors Cost reduction of the culture media

5. The current situation and future perspectives

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Temperature control for outdoor cultivation

Cultivation of temperaturetolerant algae strains:


Haematococcus pluvialis Phaeodactylum tricornutum Chlorella vulgaris Chlorella sorokinana Dunaliella salina Scenedesmus obliquus (10 C) Spirulina platensis (18 C) 20 C 22 C 25 C 37 C (43 C) 35 C 31 C (36 C) 36 C (40 C)

Development of new and more effective cooling systems Adaptation of greenhouse technology for algae cultivation

From: Cyrille Gattiker, Masterthesis, Lausanne EPFL 2009

5. The current situation and future perspectives

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Pressure losses for the FPA system

Total working pressure = sum of partial pressure losses


Compressor Tubing
< 50 mbar

Sterile filtration
ca. 150 mbar

Membrane
250 mbar

Water pressure
262 mbar

Exhaust gas
100 mbar

Energy Input: 100 200 W / m


Possible optimisation: 1. 2. 3. 4. Membrane robust algae cultures / mixed cultures Use of industrial processes which deliver CO2 under pressure Airflow adapted to light intensity/actual productivity
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Integrated production process for microalgae biomass


Valuable substances Extraction Residues (>90% of biomass)

Algae biomass

Heat

District heat anaerobic digestion Filtrate Greenhouse Flue gas Ammonium Phosphate Concentrate Stripping / Precipitation

Biogas plant 500 kWel 5. The current situation and future perspectives 38

Network partners

Bundesland Baden-Wrttemberg

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Thank you very much for your attention!

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