January 21 2021

Algae Photobioreactor [Overview]

Algae Culture Systems 

At Industrial Plankton, we make Algae Culture Systems, like the one you see in this video, for growing algae in hatcheries.

Reliably producing enough high quality algae, is a major pain for a lot of hatcheries. It’s estimated that algae production costs around 40% of total operating costs. 

One of the main reasons for this cost is because producing algae requires a lot of labour using traditional methods. Not only a lot of hours, but a lot of skilled labour as well.


Some of the ways our systems cut down on labour is by automating a lot of the key aspects of algae culture. 

For example, cleaning and sanitizing the tank are accomplished with a clean-in-place system. We also have automated nutrient and water addition, as well as automated harvest; continuous or semi-continuous.

Another feature that we have that really cuts down on work is the relative density sensor. This sensor monitors your algae density in real time, which cuts down a lot on the counts required to keep an eye on your algae. 

To start our reactor, you begin with an inoculum carboy, and add it to the system. As long as you keep the nutrients and the CO2 topped up, the reactor can grow your algae. 

Algae Culture Systems

High Quality Algae

Producing enough high quality algae is a major problem and there’s two ways that we address this. 

The first is cleaning. So we have a sealed tank and our clean-in-place system can sanitize the tank before your next algae culture.  And then anything that goes into the tank, will go through a sub-micron filter. Any air, CO2, nutrients or water that are going into the tank, no contamination will be going along with them.

When you actually add your algae to the tank, it will be through sealed autoclavable tubing, so nothing should go into the tank other than your inoculum. And all of this makes it so that if your algae is clean going in, it’ll stay clean once it’s going into our tank, and then keep producing reliably. 

The other way that we improve reliability is by controlling the conditions in the tank. We have PH control, therefore, as the algae grows and consumes CO2, the reactor automatically adds CO2 to maintain a stable PH. We also have temperature control which maintains a stable temperature, regardless of what you set your lights at. Easily adjustable lighting using our touch screen display,

Real Time Data

Also, all of the parameters that are in the tank are logged in real time. So it’s really easy to see from our data if for example, your CO2 tank has run out. And then you can troubleshoot and address whatever the problem is before anything bad happens to your algae.

Because of this, many of our customers on average get between 6 weeks and 8 months out of a single inoculum, harvesting the whole time. Our current record is 11 months!

This automation also makes it easier to grow diatoms. Diatoms are really nutritious for a lot of marine animals, but because they grow so fast, they can be a challenge to grow manually. But with our system, you can just tune the flow rate, tune the nutrients and just keep up with the diatom growth rate and keep diluting them and harvesting them quickly. 

Our system is a 1200 litre tank and it has a fairly compact footprint. Because of these controlled conditions in the tank, we can actually reach much higher densities. Also, because of all the extra light, we can reach much higher densities than a conventional bag or a tank system. So, what this means is that even though you have much less volume of culture, you can actually get the same equivalent production as you might with a much larger volume of either a bag or a tank system. 

Thanks for watching our video! If you are interested in learning more, get in touch and we can connect you with customers who are already using our system so you can find out how it might work for you!