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FAQs
How much algae do you need for inoculation?

For the 1250L PBR (photobioreactor) we recommend starting with a 20L carboy, with an algae culture that is still growing exponentially. For Isochrysis, we recommend a density between 3-5 million cells/mL.

Can your system grow diatoms?

Yes, most diatoms grow very well in our system. Our photobioreactors allow customers to grow diatoms consistently at incredible densities without crashing, because the automated media addition and closed loop controls allow diatoms to grow exponentially without nutrient limitation. This in turn means that the diatoms grown will be full of omega-3 fatty acids and rich in colour under a microscope.

Can you grow freshwater algae?

Our PBRs are designed to grow freshwater microalgae, such as Chlamydomonas spp., Haematococcus pluvialis, etc, or marine (salt water) microalgae such as Nannochloropsis sp, Isochrysis sp, etc.

I use bags in my hatchery. How many PBRs would replace my current production?

The number of bags that can be replaced by a PBR will depend on your standard density achieved and volume harvested. Growing a diatom like Thalassiosira pseudonana one 1250L PBR could replace up to 30 x 400L upright bags.

Do you supply the nutrients?

We do not supply the nutrients, but we recommend using Proline’s Guillards F/2 formula. The Algae Bioreactors are versatile in that they can add up to 3 separate concentrated nutrients solutions in programmable ratios. This allows customers to be successful with homemade nutrient mixed or other commercially available formulas. Provided you know what is in the nutrients you use, we can help match them to our recommendations to allow you success, regardless of what is available.

Where can we find our starter phytoplankton cultures?

We recommend getting started cultures from a professional microalgal culture collection. A few of our favourite sources of starter algae are the Bigelow National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota , NOAA’s Milford lab, and the UTEX culture collections.

You may be able to source larger inoculum cultures locally from a University studying algae biotechnology or aquaculture, or other facilities such as shellfish hatcheries, nurseries, shrimp laboratories, shrimp hatcheries, or finfish hatcheries.

What is the procedure of installing the PBR?

The PBR arrives in 4 components: water pre-treatment tank, the top light, temperature control unit and the algae culture chamber (photobioreactor) itself. Simply place and level the components, connect the water supply, interconnect the components disconnected for shipping, and plug it all in. It generally takes 3-4 hours to get it uncrated, leveled, and installed. We also offer an optional installation and training package. This includes a technician from Industrial Plankton visiting your facility, installing the equipment, and walking through algae culturing (from flask to the bioreactor’s operation). This option is not required for clients who are already skilled algae technicians.

Can we install the PBR ourselves?

Absolutely! The PBR is designed to be and user friendly. Some customers choose to have one of our technicians on site help accelerate the installation and get it ready for phytoplankton faster. With a CWS support package, we are also available to help with any installation questions through phone, video or email.

What measures are in place to maximize biosecurity?

All water entering our bioreactors passes through several levels of filtration. Water is prefiltered to 0.5 µm, passed through a UV sterilizer, an absolute 0.2 µm filter, and finally through a 0.1 µm absolute capsule filter. This staged filtration ensures that water enters the bioreactor without contaminants. Air entering and leaving the reactor is also micron filtered to 0.2 µm.

What parameters can be controlled?

Temperature, pH, nutrient additions, lighting, and density, (through volume harvested and water added) can all be easily manipulated with the intuitive touchscreen controls.

What are the weight and dimensions?

All of this information can be found on the resources page under the “Tech Specs and Components” document for the specific PBR you’re interested in learning more about.

What are the power requirements of the Algae Bioreactors?

All of this information can be found on the resources page under the “Installation Requirements” document for the specific PBR you’re interested in learning more about.

How much is it going to cost to operate the entire system once it is set up?

The equipment is turnkey, the only items you need to provide will be consumables, such as CO2, nutrients, and cleaning solution. And electrical outlets for the plugs.

What type of filtration do I need for water entering the PBR?

Ideally the supply water is filtered down to 1 µm nominal prior to reaching our equipment. This ensures good filter life on the equipment.

How does scale up work?

Water and nutrients are automatically added (either continuously or semi-continuously) to keep the algae growing up to harvest density and volume. This takes 7-10 days depending on the quality and strength of the inoculum.

How do you collect samples for analysis from the Bioreactors?

Samples can be collected anytime using the harvest (peristaltic) pump.

How does automated harvesting work?

Automated harvesting works in two modes: continuous (flow-through) or semi-continuous (drop and top). In semi-continuous you can harvest on your schedule. Set the time and volume you’d like algae harvested and the PBR will dispense that volume using a metered peristaltic pump. In continuous mode you set the media inflow rate and the harvest will overflow the top of the algae bioreactor allowing you to continuously feed it out to your animals.

The system does not separate the algae from the water (ie it does include a centrifuge or other dewatering device like that). If you need to remove the algae from the water you will need to set up a different process downstream.

How long does the PBR take to scale up?

The PBR takes between 7-10 days for full scale up with a healthy inoculum. This can be accelerated by using more inoculum volume (ie 60 L instead of 20 L for the 1250L PBR and 2500L PBR).

How long can a culture grow before you run the cleaning cycle?

By following our procedures for cleaning and inoculation a standard culture should last between 6 to 12 weeks depending on the quality and strain of the inoculum. We’ve had customers grow over 6 months in certain cases as well.

How does cleaning work and how long does it take before it can be reinoculated?

The reactor is equipped with rotary spray balls and a spray pump to wash the tank internally between culture runs. Cleaning and sterilizing between culture runs in a 2 step process: biofilm removal and chlorine sterilization. Downtime is very minimal and cleaning hardly takes any effort. Though the cleaning cycle takes 2-4 hours, you can be doing more productive things during that time, than cleaning the tank while you let the spray system work for you.

Do I need to know how to grow algae to use a PBR?

No, but it helps 🙂 We’ve trained customers with no algae knowledge and taught them how to grow algae consistently in our photobioreactors. We offer Installation and Inoculum Production Training (IIPT) ranging from 3-7 days. With the longer training period ( 5-7 days) we can train a detail oriented person to be a great algae tech.

I’m located outside of Canada. Can you ship to my country?

We have bioreactors in many countries around the world. Contact us and our logistics team will help determine and coordinate the requirements for your specific location. We can ship by ground or air depending on your timeline.

Do you use LEDs or fluorescent lights?

Each PBR 1250L comes with 2,160 W of our Algal Spectrum LEDs. We do have the ability to customize the LED spectrum for customers looking to increase production of a specific bioproduct (carotenoid etc.) for an additional cost and lead time. Most customers are happy with our Algal Spectrum, as it is efficient and produces healthy algae.

Is your algae bioreactor autotrophic or heterotrophic?

Our current PBRs are all photoautotrophic.

What data does will my PBR collect?

The control system is consistently monitoring and logging the algae culture’s pH, temperature, CO2 consumption rate, growth rate, nutrient addition rate, water volume inside the vessel, light level and density. All data is graphed on the screen and saved so it can be accessed at a later date and every event is logged.

How do I access data from the PBR

You can scroll back in time using the algae bioreactor interface to see it graphed on the touchscreen controls.

You can also insert a thumb (USB) drive into the front port on the control panel and automatically copy the files onto your drive. It will be exported in a CSV file with headers.

You can also login remotely from your computer and transfer the files directly to your desktop.

In aquaculture, what types of facilities can use Algae Bioreactors?
  • Bivalve Hatcheries, remote setting and nurseries for
    • Oyster: Virginica or Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas), Kumamoto (Crassostrea sikamea), European Flat Oyster or ‘Belons’ (Ostrea edulis), Sydney Rock Oyster (Saccostrea glomerata), and the Southern Mud / Australian Flat Oyster (Ostrea angasi), New Zealand Flat Oyster (Ostrea chilensis)
    • Clam: Geoduck Clam (Panopea generosa),  Quahog / Hard / Hard-shell(ed) Clam (Mercenaria mercenaria), Manilla Clam (Venerupis philippinarum), Little Neck Clam (Paphia staminea),
    • Marine Mussel: Eastern Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis), Western Blue mussel (Mytilus trossulus), Gallo / Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis),
  • Freshwater Mussels
  • Shrimp laboratories / shrimp hatcheries: Giant Tiger Prawn (Penaeus monodon) whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei)
  • Finfish Hatcheries for greenwater technique and for Rotifer enrichment (Brachionus plicatilis)
  • Sablefish, Gouper, Amberjack, Halibut, Branzino, Sea bream, Totoaba, Yellowtail, Cobia, Barramundi
  • Sea cucumber Holothoroidian
  • Marine ornamentals