Colorado-based algal companies release specialized growth systems

By Luke Geiver | September 27, 2011

A group of Colorado-based biotechnology companies have partnered to accelerate the commercialization process for algal culture growth. Led by BioVantage Resources Inc., based in Golden, Colo., the group has released a suite of bioreactor and open raceway products that range from the 30-liter size to the 6,000-liter size, as well as made to order raceway ponds. The bioreactors can be used as part of BioVantage’s algae production system that employs a low-shear mixing strategy combined with a gas exchange system that reduces the formation of biofilm, and according to BioVantage, the system also includes light-pipe technology that distributes light evenly throughout out the bioreactor tubes for better growth output.

As Sue Kunz, CEO for BioVantage explained, the system makes it easier for microbiologists moving from “the starter culture in a petri dish or test tube to any volume above an Erlenmeyer flask,” because as she said, the move is a “non-trivial and time-intensive process.”

BioVantage has partnered with a number of other private and public parties, including the Colorado School of Mines; Utah State University; Stewart Engineering, a Fort Collins, Colo.-based  engineering firm that also tests alternative feedstocks; Evolutionary Genomics, a Lafayette, Colo.-based biotechnology company that has develop a proprietary adapted traits platform to identify specific genes that can be commercialized; and finally, the Bio2 Solution, a Strasburg, Colo.-based algae solutions company that like BioVantage, is working to develop and commercialize wastewater remediation technology which uses algae.

The algae inoculation systems produced by BioVantage are also modular and range in size from 600 liter raceways and up. The systems also include a medium preparation system that distributes a recipe of nutrients to the tanks, based on specifications provided by the user. Users also have the ability grow different organisms in individual tanks with independent conditions and medium formulas, while also changing pH levels via sensor monitoring, according to the company. As BioVantage pointed out, “less time is spent on building bioreactors, and more time is devoted to getting science out of the laboratory and products into customers’ hands.”

The company’s main focus is to place bioreactors at wastewater lagoons, allowing algae to be grown on-site, which can then be use as a vehicle for wastewater clean-up. Using a library of pollutaphiles, or indigenous microorganisms that eat pollutants, the company introduces the organisms into the lagoons, allowing algae grown on-site to enter the lagoon, all while consuming the pollutaphiles.

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