Schott oval glass tubes boost algae output

By Schott North America | April 30, 2015

Schott North America announced that its new oval glass tubes for photobioreactors (PBRs) increased maximum dry biomass output per day by more than 22 percent in its latest study in partnership with Heliae, a technology-driven algae production company. For the first time, Schott’s round glass tubes were retrofitted with oval tubes in Heliae’s Helix seed PBR. An indoor study over multiple cycles in several months found that the algae growth rate per volume increased by more than 45 percent, while the oval shape reduces the total internal volume of PBR tubes by 15 percent compared to standard circular tubes resulting in the overall output-increase stated above.

The oval cross section increases the tube's surface area that is oriented towards the light source. Therefore, more of the algal culture is reached by light, stimulating photosynthesis and enhancing algae growth. Furthermore, the final maximum culture density boosted by over 25 percent, enabled by more efficient light exposure of the algae culture.

“Heliae is continuously improving algae production rates and culture reliability,” said Eric Lichtenheld, Chief Operating Officer at Heliae.  “Schott's oval glass tubes are the latest example of their efforts to expand algae production capabilities and serve a growing industry.  Combining Heliae’s production capabilities with SCOTT’s advancing technology enables a market viable product.  Heliae looks forward to continued joint efforts opening new possibilities for algae production.”

Schott's oval glass tubes feature round ends that are compatible with existing PBR tube couplings, making them easy to incorporate into existing systems. The oval glass tubes can also be easily oriented toward light sources, allowing researchers to get their systems up and running quickly.

“The results of this study reflect the hypotheses presented in our original computer simulations, and demonstrate the advantages of glass tubing for algae production,” said Nikolaos Katsikis, director of business development at Schott Tubing. “Schoot and Heliae will continue to build on these positive results with tests at the Helix reactor located at the Arizona State University. Different than the previous tests, the light source is not only artificial light but also sun light. The Schott and Heliae partnership continues to expand the potential for algae production in PBRs.”