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Using PVC-pipes to put microalgae in the right light

 

Dr. Stephan Schuessler, Georg Fischer

Papers # 2012 Barcelona

The development of plant-based raw materials instead of using crude-oil is about to develop to one of the most relevant trends in global chemical industry. In addition to that, concepts integrating the biomass-generation using so-called bioreactors into a closed loop together with a biogas-generator and a combined heat- and power plant under intelligent utilization of mass- and energy streams are gradually stimulating the interest of both investors and various industrial branches. Using microalgae grown in such bioreactors as a feedstock for pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, food and feed products, fertilizers as well as an option to produce biofuels has turned out as a very promising technology to tackle the respective markets without competing with the conventional agriculture. The extent to what this approach will be able to support the global energy and food supply will critically depend on the reduction of investment costs for such bioreactors / plants as well as a significant increase of the durability and efficiency of the bioreactors. This presentation summarizes the basic concepts of the technology and describes the status of the actual development. A particular focus is set on the potential and the benefits of especially formulated transparent PVC-U pipes as the core-component of such so-called photo-bioreactors (PBR).The technical features and hurdles to overcome of first commercially available PBRsystems being based on very thin-walled transparent PVC-U tubes will be presented as well emphasizing how well this material can match with the technical and economic demands for such systems.

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