Microalgae Technology

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Microalgae at a glance

Microalgae or phytoplankton covers a vast array of evolutionary groups typically found in freshwater or marine systems. They are resilient, fast-growing and effective organisms with large and unexplored potential for large-scale carbon capture from industrial point emissions.  Some species are capable of photosynthesis – converting CO2 into biomass by using light. Microalgae contribute up to 50% of the total CO2 absorbed by Earth´s biosphere.

Microalgae are rich in protein and produce lipids such as omega-3. Microalgae are the only natural source of omega-3, produced through photosynthesis. Fish cannot produce omega-3 by themselves but eat microalgae in the natural food chain, thus accumulating omega-3.

Microalgae cultivation in photobioreactors

Microalgae need an aquatic environment with plenty of light, nutrients and a continuous flow of CO2 to grow. Keeping out contaminants and controlling the growth conditions are important factors for high-growth yields. Therefore, closed cultivation using photobioreactors and artificial LED light is becoming an increasingly favourable tool, compared to open pond systems.

Microalgae cultivation is faster in smaller batches, as the efficient distribution of light, CO2 and nutrients becomes more difficult with scale. Large systems have lower yields and slower growth rates, which also results in less relative carbon uptake in the growth process.

ALGIECEL´s photobioreactor

ALGIECEL will build and offer compact mobile microalgae photobioreactors and downstream units, fitting into standard containers, thereby transforming industrial CO2 point emissions and LED light into profitable derivative products on site.

ALGIECEL has designed a modular, closed, tubular photobioreactor with horizontal pipes divided into nine separately removable models. Each pipe is mounted on and supported bu an aluminium profile on wich which millions of LEDs are mounted.

By controlling the lighting with state-of-the-art LED tech, we also control the growth of the algae with minimal risk of contamination.

The photobioreactor is flexibly applicable on varying grades of CO2 and can host any autotrophic microalgae species, that is, any microalgae species growing with photosynthesis, thereby transforming light and CO2 into biomass.

By using small reactor systems with high yields, ALGIECEL scales individual production sites through the addition of modules rather than by increasing the size of batches.

We can thus achieve constantly efficient production with increasing scale compared with competing solutions. The container-based plug & play structure also means a more flexible capex solution for clients.  

Publications from VP Research and Development Niels-Henrik Norsker


Norsker, N.-H., M. Cuaresma, P. Uronen, M. J. Barbosa and R. Wijffels (2021). Developing microalgal oil production for an outdoor photobioreactor. J Appl Phycol 33(3): 1315-1325.

Norsker, N.-H., M. Cuaresma, J. de Vree, M. C. Ruiz-Domínguez, M. C. M. García, P. Uronen, M. J. Barbosa and R. Wijffels (2021). Neochloris oleoabundans oil production in an outdoor tubular photobioreactor at pilot scale. J Appl Phycol 33(3): 1327-1339.

Norsker, N.-H. (2020). Scale-up of microalgae-based processes. Handbook of Microalgae-Based Processes and Products, Elsevier: 861-883.

Norsker, N. H., M. Michiels, P. M. Slegers, G. L. A. M. Swinkels, M. J. Barbosa and R. H. Wijffels (2019). Productivity of Nannochloropsis oceanica in an industrial closely spaced flat panel photobioreactor. Algal Research 43: 101632.

Norsker, N.-H., M. J. Barbosa, M. H. Vermuë and R. H. Wijffels (2011). Microalgal production – A close look at the economics. Biotechnol Adv 29: 24-27.

Norsker, N.-H., M. J. Barbosa, M. H. Vermuë and R. H. Wijffels (2012). On Energy Balance and Production Costs in Tubular and Flat Panel Photobioreactors. Technikfolgenabschätzung – Theorie und Praxis 21(1): 8.

Norsker, N.-H. and J. G. Støttrup (1991). Technical and Biological Aspects of Continuous Micro algae Cultivation. European Aquaculture Society, Special Publication No. 15(15): 87-90.

Norsker, N. H., M. Barbosa and R. Wijffels (2010). Microalgal Biotechnology in the Production of Nutraceuticals. Biotechnology in Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. Debasis Bagchi, F. C. Lau and D. K. Ghosh, Taylor & Francis: 591.

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