Microalgae manufacturer ecoduna has selected SCHOTT’s glass tubes for its new photobioreactor (PBR) facility after a successful 18-month testing period.
A subsidiary of ecoduna, eparella will operate the sustainable 2.5 acre plant, which is scheduled to be built this year using 143 miles of glass tubing. The facility will be one of the largest in Europe that is dedicated to the harvest of omega-3 fatty acids from microorganisms and production is expected to begin in 2018.
SCHOTT will deliver several hundred thousand units, which can hold more than 780,000l of photoactive volume. The facility will produce 100t of algae annually.
In vertical PBRs, algae is grown in transparent tubes filled with water and nutrients to fuel photosynthesis. ecoduna produces and harvests different algae such as chlorella or spirulina for use as food supplements, cosmetics ingredients, animal food, biofuel, fertiliser, and pharmaceutical components. The market volume of algae production has already exceeded $1bn and continues to grow.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one driver of that growth. They’re considered important for brain health, but they cannot be produced by the human body. They must be found in food, but the most common sources such as oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, are prone to overfishing. By growing omega-3 fatty acids in algae, ecoduna helps take pressure off of fish populations and provides a cost-efficient source of this crucial nutrient.
As PBR technology improves, facilities are increasingly converted from plastic to glass. Glass’s cleanability, strength, and clarity improve output and lower costs. Companies expect to replace plastic tubes and panels every few years, while glass can last longer than five decades. In the long run, glass tubing is more cost-effective.
Chief operating officer of ecoduna Silvia Fluch says: "The transition from plastic to glass was an important step for our company.
"The use of recyclable glass in our manufacturing plant perfectly fits our idea of being sustainable and protecting our environment and nature."
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