GB2542817A - Bioreactor - Google Patents

Bioreactor Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2542817A
GB2542817A GB1517290.1A GB201517290A GB2542817A GB 2542817 A GB2542817 A GB 2542817A GB 201517290 A GB201517290 A GB 201517290A GB 2542817 A GB2542817 A GB 2542817A
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GB
United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
bioreactor
flow
air
carbon dioxide
chamber
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
Application number
GB1517290.1A
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GB201517290D0 (en
Inventor
Bergmann Peter
Beyer Lars
Trosch Walter
Ruppel Valentina
Ripplinger Peter
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SUBITEC GmbH
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SUBITEC GmbH
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Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by SUBITEC GmbH filed Critical SUBITEC GmbH
Priority to GB1517290.1A priority Critical patent/GB2542817A/en
Publication of GB201517290D0 publication Critical patent/GB201517290D0/en
Priority claimed from EP16778287.9A external-priority patent/EP3167042B1/en
Publication of GB2542817A publication Critical patent/GB2542817A/en
Application status is Withdrawn legal-status Critical

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    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C12BIOCHEMISTRY; BEER; SPIRITS; WINE; VINEGAR; MICROBIOLOGY; ENZYMOLOGY; MUTATION OR GENETIC ENGINEERING
    • C12MAPPARATUS FOR ENZYMOLOGY OR MICROBIOLOGY; APPARATUS FOR CULTURING MICROORGANISMS FOR PRODUCING BIOMASS, FOR GROWING CELLS OR FOR OBTAINING FERMENTATION OR METABOLIC PRODUCTS, i.e. BIOREACTORS OR FERMENTERS
    • C12M29/00Means for introduction, extraction or recirculation of materials, e.g. pumps
    • C12M29/06Nozzles; Sprayers; Spargers; Diffusers
    • C12M29/08Air lift
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C12BIOCHEMISTRY; BEER; SPIRITS; WINE; VINEGAR; MICROBIOLOGY; ENZYMOLOGY; MUTATION OR GENETIC ENGINEERING
    • C12MAPPARATUS FOR ENZYMOLOGY OR MICROBIOLOGY; APPARATUS FOR CULTURING MICROORGANISMS FOR PRODUCING BIOMASS, FOR GROWING CELLS OR FOR OBTAINING FERMENTATION OR METABOLIC PRODUCTS, i.e. BIOREACTORS OR FERMENTERS
    • C12M1/00Apparatus for enzymology or microbiology
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C12BIOCHEMISTRY; BEER; SPIRITS; WINE; VINEGAR; MICROBIOLOGY; ENZYMOLOGY; MUTATION OR GENETIC ENGINEERING
    • C12MAPPARATUS FOR ENZYMOLOGY OR MICROBIOLOGY; APPARATUS FOR CULTURING MICROORGANISMS FOR PRODUCING BIOMASS, FOR GROWING CELLS OR FOR OBTAINING FERMENTATION OR METABOLIC PRODUCTS, i.e. BIOREACTORS OR FERMENTERS
    • C12M21/00Bioreactors or fermenters specially adapted for specific uses
    • C12M21/02Photobioreactors

Abstract

A bioreactor 10 which comprises at least one rise chamber 20 containing a growth medium and at least one down chamber 30 connected to the at least one rise chamber 20 at a top and at a bottom to form a loop. A gas inlet 40 is connected to the at least one rise chamber for supplying a controllable air flow 74 or 72 to the at least one rise chamber. The controlling of the air flow means that the amount of air in the bioreactor can be adjusted to reduce the amount of the air flow as and when required. Optionally, this bioreactor can comprise a mass flow controller 72, configured to adjust the air flow depending on the light strength falling on the bioreactor. The bioreactor may also comprise a carbon dioxide source 66 for supplying carbon dioxide gas to the growth medium. Also claimed is a method of operation of a bioreactor, the method comprising supplying the bioreactor with a growth medium, supplying the bioreactor with a controllable air supply and adjusting the flow of the controllable air supply.

Description

Title: Bioreactor

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The invention relates to a bioreactor for cultivating phototrophic microorganisms, such as but not limited to algae and cyanobacteria, as well, as phototrophically grown cells, such as but not limited to moss. It furthermore relates to a method for operating such a bioreactor.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Bioreactors are fermenters in which a biological conversion of substances is carried out using, for example enzymes, microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, yeast, algae, cyanobacteria) as well as animal and plant cells, e.g. mosses. The operating conditions, such as temperature, pH value and nutrient condition can be adjusted within the bioreactor to optimize operating conditions for the conversion process. The function of the bioreactor include therefore transfer of materials in a fluid phase (mixing), dispersion in a second phase - in most cases air - in order to obtain a large phase boundary surface for good material transfer from gas to liquid , and thermal transfer for temperature regulation. The design of a bioreactor depends on its applications and therefore must take into account the specific requirements of the biological system used.

[0003] in order to cultivate phototrophic microorganisms as well as phototrophically grown cells, so-called photobioreactors are used. Among potential designs, a so-called “airlift” photobioreactor can be used for cultivating phototrophic microorganisms and enabling the growth of the phototrophic microorganisms to a high ceil density. Such airlift photobioreactors are produced by Subitec GmbH in Stuttgart [0004] The airlift loop photobioreactor has a column-shaped reactor vessel, in which introduction of air at the bottom of a rise chamber creates a fluid circulation of the growth medium within a loop defined by a shape of the photobioreactor. The airlift loop bioreactor is divided thus into a gassed zone (rise chamber) and an ungassed zone (down chamber). The gassed zone and the imgassed zone are interconnected at their bottom and their top so that the hydrostatic pressure differential causes a pump effect that results in an overflow of the fluid containing the growth medium from the gassed zone. The mixing of the growth medium in the reactor is due substantially to the aeration volume per time and thus this photobioreactor design enables a good mixing and a high gas-fluid mass exchange with low energy consumption. Such an airlift photobioreactor is described, for example, in the patent documents DE 199 16 597 or GB 2 235 210.

[0005] Another example of a photobioreactor is disclosed in US Patent No. 7,374,928 B2 (Trosch), which discloses the presence of transversal septa (or dividing walls) arranged cross-wise to the air-lift flow and constrict the airflow to form a meandering path within the photobioreactor. This meandering flow creates a turbulent flow and thus promotes mixing of the phototrophic microorganisms and the phototrophically grown cells within the photobioreactor and creates light dilution for individual ones of the phototrophic microorganisms and the phototrophically grown cells, when the light source is unidirectional.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] This disclosure teaches a bioreactor comprising at least one rise chamber containing a growth medium and at least one down chamber connected to the at least one rise chamber at a top and at a bottom to form a loop. An air inlet is connected to the at least rise chamber for supplying a controllable air flow to the at least one rise chamber. The controlling of the air flow' means that the amount of air in the bioreactor can be adjusted to reduce the amount of the air flow' as and when required. This saves energy whilst substantially maintain the productivity of the bioreactor.

[0007] In one aspect, the air flow rate in the bioreactor is configured to adjust the air flow depending on the light strength falling on the bioreactor. It has been found that the air flow can be reduced at lower light intensities without losing productivity.

[0008] The bioreactor has also carbon dioxide source for supplying carbon dioxide gas to the growth medium. The carbon dioxide gas can be supplied either with the air at the bottom of the rise chamber or can be supplied directly to fall chamber.

[0009] The method of operation of a bioreactor comprises supplying the bioreactor with a growth medium for growing at least one of phototrophic microorganisms or phototrophicallv grown cells, supplying the bioreactor with a controllable air supply to intermix the growth medium, the growth medium including at least one of the phototrophic microorganisms or the phototrophically grown cells, and adjusting a flow of the controllable gas supply to optimize the growth and flow rate of the gas,

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[00010] Fig. 1 shows a bioreactor.

[00011] Fig. 2 shows a side view in form of a rise chamber of the bioreactor.

[00012] Figs 3A and 3B show a series of experimental results illustrating the pulsation of the ah'.

[00013] Figs. 4A to 4C show the effect of light and flow rate on the growth.

[00014] Figs. 5A and 5C show the effect of night and day on the growth.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[00015] FIG. 1 shows a bioreactor 10 of the disclosure. The bioreactor 10 comprising two rise chambers 20 separated by a down chamber 30. The two rise chambers 20 and the down chamber 30 comprises a growth medium for growing phototrophic microorganisms, such as but not limited to algae or cyanobacteria, or phototrophically grown cells, such as mosses. The construction of the rise chambers 20 will be described in connection with Fig. 2: It will be appreciated that the bioreactor 10 of Fig. 1 has two rise chambers 20 and a single down chamber 30. Other bioreactors 10 may have a different number of rise chambers 20 and down chambers 30. The down chambers 30 can be arranged internally (as shown in Fig. 1) or external to the bioreactor 10.

[00016] The bioreactor 10 has a gas inlet 40, which is connected to the bottom of the rise chambers 20 and carries gas from, the gas pipe 50 and provides the gas to the rise chambers 20 to form a gassed zone within the rise chambers 20. The bioreactor 10 has also a medium input 80 connected to a medium pipe 90 which carries medium into the bioreactor 10.

[00017] The gas pipe 50 can be connected to a carbon dioxide pipe 60, which carries carbon dioxide from a carbon dioxide source 66 through a carbon dioxide valve 64. The flow rate of the carbon dioxide in the carbon dioxide pipe is measured by the carbon dioxide flow meter 62. The connection between the gas pipe 50 and the carbon dioxide pipe 60 is shown as a dotted line in Fig. 1 because of an alternative connection, as outlined below.

[00018] The gas pipe 50 is further connected to an air pipe 70, which transports air from an air source, such as a compressor 76, through a mass flow controller 74 and/or a controllable magnetic air valve 72. The amount of air moving through the air pipe 70 can be controlled by a mass-flow controller 72. The magnetic air valve 72 and the mass flow controller 74 are connected to a controller 78, which measures and controls the flow of air through the air pipe 70, as will be described later. It will be appreciated that the magnetic air valve 72 could be replaced by other types of valves to open and dose the air pipe 70 and thus control the movement of the air through the air pipe 70. It will also be appreciated that the air pipe 70 does not need both the magnetic air valve 72 and the mass flow controller 74. The mass flow controller 74 is particularly useful in connection with changing the flow of the air through the air pipe dependent on the amount of light falling on the bioreactor 10, as will be explained later.

[00019] The medium input 80 is connected to a medium pipe 90, which is connected through a first medium valve 94 to a first medium source 92 or through a second medium valve 96 to a second medium source 100. The first medium source 92 and the second medium source 100 have the various components of the growth medium for the biological material in the bioreactor 10.

[00020] The top of the bioreactor 10 has an outlet pipe 110 for removing excess gas through a filter 120 to an exhaust 130. The bioreactor 10 has at least one product outlet 25 to collect products produced in the bioreactor 10.

[00021] Fig. 2 shows an example of one of the rise chambers 20. The rise chamber has wall elements 210 made, in one aspect, of a thin, flexible, light-permeable plastic foil. The two wall elements 210 are constructed to have transverse elements 220 projecting from their inner sides. The transverse elements 220 are arranged parallel to each other and facing each other. In the displayed aspect of the bioreactor 10, there are seven transverse elements mounted on the inner sides of the wall elements 210. When the two wall elements 210 are placed together, as shown in Fig. 2, the transverse elements 220 form, in this example, fifteen interior chambers 230, divided by the transverse elements 220.

[00022] The transverse elements 220 do not completely close the interior of the rise chambers. There are still a plurality of small channels 240 formed between the inner w'all of the wall elements 210 and the transverse elements 220. This plurality of small channels 240 allows passage of the medium and the gas from one end (bottom) of the rise chamber 20 through the interior chambers 230 to the top end of the rise chamber 20.

[00023] During operation of the bioreactor 10, the two rise chambers 20 are vertically positioned so that gas entering through the gas inlet 40 and the growth medium entering through the medium inlet 80 are allowed to rise through the small channels 240 and the interior chambers 230 of the rise chambers 20, as described in US Patent No US 7,374,928. The gas mixes the growth medium and supplies the growth medium with carbon dioxide. The plurality of transverse elements 220 thus form static mixers to enable mixing of the medium and the gas within the interior chambers 240.

[00024] The gas is expelled through the outlet pipe 110. The growth medium is, as explained in US 7,374,928, allowed to cycle down through the down chamber 30 where it is collected and allowed to rise again through the rise chambers 20.

[00025] The purpose of the gas inlet 40 is to aerate the growth medium by creating bubbles in the rise chambers 20 to mix up the growth medium, drive the growth medium and to add the carbon dioxide gas to the bioreactor 10 to enable growth. Part of the carbon dioxide provided from the carbon dioxide source 66 will, however, be lost through the outlet pipe 110 with the expelled air. The aeration leads to elimination of any chemical concentration gradients in the bioreactor 10. It also addresses the effects of photolimitation and photoinhibition because of the growth of algae within the bioreactor 10 limiting the amount of light reaching the interior of the rise chambers 20 (so-called self shadowing).

[00026] It is also possible to install a separate carbon dioxide inlet 63 to the top of or inside the down chamber 30 to add carbon dioxide at this point in the bioreactor 10. This separate carbon dioxide inlet would allow separate of the mixing and turbulence in the interior chambers by aeration from provision of the carbon dioxide supply. The separate inlet provides furthermore more time for the carbon dioxide in gaseous form to be absorbed into the medium during the cycle as the carbon dioxide would have time to be absorbed whilst the medium was being cycled down the down chamber 30. as well as up through the rise chamber 20.

[00027] The air valve 72 and/or the mass flow controller 74 control the flow of the air from the compressor 76 through the bioreactor 10. The air valve 72 and/or the mass flow controller 74 works in conjunction with the controller 78 and can provide either a continuous flow of air (including in one aspect of the invention the carbon dioxide gas from the carbon dioxide pipe 60) to the bottom of the bioreactor 10 through the gas inlet 40 (as known in US 7,374,928) or provide pulses of gas (including air and, if connected, carbon dioxide). The provision of air through the air pipe 70 to the air inlet 40 consumes a significant amount of energy. By using the air valve 72 to provide pulses of air to the rise chambers 20 of the bioreactor 10, the amount of energy consumed by the bioreactor can be significantly reduced.

[00028] The graphs in Fig. 3 A shows the effect of providing pulses of the air to the rise chambers for a 281 bioreactor 10. The first graph shows the growth of the material in the bioreactor over time in day for continuous air flow. Four tests were carried out (N=4) and the curve fitted with a standard deviation R of 0.98. The second graph shows a 1:1 pulse rate for the air flow (in this case 5s on and 5s off) in which it will be seen that there is no significant amount of loss of productivity, but an energy saving of 50%. The third graph shows a similar results for the case in which there is a 1:2 pulse rate, i.e. 5s of pulsed air followed by a pause of 10s. There is no significant loss of productivity, but only about 1/3 of the energy input.

[00029] The next two graphs shows a loss of productivity, i.e. growth in the bioreactor 10 is substantially reduced and the air provided is much smaller. Only one test was carried out in each case. In both cases, the air was pulsed for five seconds and then turned off for 15 seconds or for 20 seconds. These experiments demonstrate that it is possible to reduce the amount of energy required to produce the air flow without a loss of productivity.

[00030] These results are summarized in Fig. 3B which show's on the vertical axis the productivity (dry weight per liter of growth medium per day) and the draw weight per liter on the horizontal axis for various pulse rates. It will be seen that there is no loss of productivity between continuous flow and a 1:2 pulse rate, but that the productivity drops off for lower pulse rates.

[00031] The length of time of the air pulses depends on the size of the reactor. The results shown in Fig. 3 are based upon a 281 reactor. A 1801 reactor will require a longer pulse of air, but the relationship between the on and off of the air pulses can be kept the same. Generally, it is thought that the air pulse should be the same length as the time such that the air bubbles can rise from the bottom to the top through the rise chamber 20.

[00032] In one aspect of the bioreactor 10, it is possible to adjust the air flow using the mass flow controller 74 in order to take into account the amount of light falling on the bioreactor 10 and detected by a PAR sensor 79. The PAR sensor 79 detects the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) (similar but not identical to visible light) falling on the bioreactor 10. For example, on a cloudy day a significantly smaller amount of light, i.e. photosynthetically acti ve radiation, will fall on the bioreactor 10, which means that the energy available, for cultivation of phototrophic cells is reduced. This means that the amount of air required for rni.xi.ng/dissipation the medium by aeration in the bioreactor 10 is reduced because of the slower growth. The controller 78 is connected to the PAR detector 79 and also to a flow meter and can measure and adjust the amount of air flowing through the air pipe 70 (and also the amount of carbon dioxide flowing through the carbon dioxide control valve 64 can be reduced). This will save energy and also reduce consumption of carbon dioxide by the bioreactor 10.

[00033] Figs 4A to 4C shows the effect of light on growth for various different differing flow rates of the air. Fig. 4A shows a light intensity of 180 mol PAR photons / m2.s; Fig. 4B shows a light intensity of 405 mol photons PAR / m2.s and Fig. 4C shows a light intensity of 780 mol PAR photons / m2.s. It will be seen that, for the lower intensity light of Fig. 4A, the differing flow rates of the air has almost no effect on the growth rate in the bioreactor 10. The fall-off in the growth rate is due to the increasing concentration of the grown materials in the bioreactor 10 preventing use of some of the light. Fig. 4B shows a slight increase in the growth rate with increased flow rate of the air and Fig. 4C shows a much larger increase in the growth rate with increase flow rate of the air. Thus, one can conclude that at lower light intensities, the flow rate of the air can be reduced to save on energy without substantially affecting the productivity.

[00034J This can be put into practice as shown in Figs 5A and 5B, which illustrate the effect of increasing the air flow when there is an increased amount of light on an ideal, sunny day. It will be seen that maintaining the aeration rate at a constant value means that energy is wasted during the night hours because there is a reduced rate production due to less light (see Fig. 4A). However, during the midday period the potential of the bioreactor 10 is not exploited. By increasing the amount of aeration during the midday period, the biological conversion would significantly increased (see Fig. 4C).

[00035] Fig. 5B shows, for example, that the maximum aeration rate of the illustrated example is around 300 I/hr but at night or during a clouded day it would be possible to use around 401 /hr with a large saving of energy.

Examples [00036] In one non-limiting example of the bioreactor 10, the growth medium in the bioreactor 10 comprised 300 mg/1 of NH4, 200 mg/1 of P04 and 2,5 ml/L of Iron citrate. The medium had a pH value of 6.6 to 7.5 The flow of the air was 360 I/hr and the flow of the carbon dioxide was 20 I/hr. The light intensity was 516 pmol photons PAR /m *s.

[00037] In other non-limiting examples, the flow of the air could be between 20 and 400 1/hr and the light intensity between 180 and 780 pmol photons PAR / m2.s.

Reference Numerals 10 Bioreactor 20 Rise chamber 25 Product outlet 30 Down chamber 40 Gas inlet 50 Gas pipe 60 Carbon dioxide pipe. 62 Flowmeter 64 Carbon dioxide valve 66 Carbon dioxide source 70 Air pipe 72 Air valve 74 Mass-flow controller 76 Compressor 78 Controller 79 PAR sensor 80 Medium inlet 90 Medium pipe 92 First medium source 94 First medium valve 96 Second medium valve 100 Second medium source 110 Outlet pipe 210 Wall elements 220 Transverse elements 230 Interior chambers 240 Channel

Claims (11)

Claims
1. A bioreactor (10) comprising: at least one rise chamber (20) containing a growth medium; at least one fall chamber (30) connected to the at least one rise chamber (20) at a top and at a bottom to form a loop; a gas inlet (40) connected to the at least rise chamber for supplying a controllable gas flow to the at least one rise chamber (20).
2. The bioreactor (10) of claim 2, wherein the gas inlet (40) is connected to at least one of a mass flow controller (74) or a valve (72) for adjusting the air flow.
3. The bioreaetor (10) of claim. 1 or 2. wherein the mass flow controller (72) is configured to adjust the air flow depending on the light strength falling on the bioreactor.
4. The bioreactor (10) of any of the above claims, further comprising a carbon dioxide source (66) for supplying carbon dioxide gas to the growth medium.
5. The bioreactor (10) of claim 4, wherein the carbon dioxide gas is supplied to the bottom of the at least one rise chamber (20).
6. The bioreactor (10) of claim 4, wherein the carbon dioxide gas is supplied to the at least one down chamber (30).
7. A method of operation of a bioreaetor comprising: supplying the bioreaetor with a growth medium for growing at least one of phototrophic microorganisms or phototrophically grown cells; supplying the bioreaetor with a controllable air supply to intermix the growth medium, the growth medium including at least one of the phototrophic microorganisms or the phototrophically grown cells; and adjusting a flow of the controllable air supply.
8. The method of claim 7, further compri sing adjusting the flow of the controllable air supply depending on the measured amount of light.
9. The method of claim 7, further comprising pulsing the flow of the controllable air supply.
10. Use of the bioreactor according to any one of the claims 1 to 6 to grow phototrophic microorganisms or phototrophically grown cells.
11. The u se of claim 10, wherein the phototrophic microorganisms are at least one of algae or cyanobacteria.
GB1517290.1A 2015-09-30 2015-09-30 Bioreactor Withdrawn GB2542817A (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB1517290.1A GB2542817A (en) 2015-09-30 2015-09-30 Bioreactor

Applications Claiming Priority (7)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB1517290.1A GB2542817A (en) 2015-09-30 2015-09-30 Bioreactor
EP16778287.9A EP3167042B1 (en) 2015-09-30 2016-09-30 Bioreactor with interruptible gas supply
CN201680057064.2A CN108138103A (en) 2015-09-30 2016-09-30 Bioreactor with the supply of interruptable gas
EP17153893.7A EP3190170A1 (en) 2015-09-30 2016-09-30 Bioreactor with separate co2 supply
JP2018517254A JP2018529367A (en) 2015-09-30 2016-09-30 Bioreactor capable of shutting off gas supply
PCT/EP2016/073473 WO2017055585A1 (en) 2015-09-30 2016-09-30 Bioreactor with interruptible gas supply
US15/419,384 US20170145361A1 (en) 2015-09-30 2017-01-30 Bioreactor with separate co2 supply

Publications (2)

Publication Number Publication Date
GB201517290D0 GB201517290D0 (en) 2015-11-11
GB2542817A true GB2542817A (en) 2017-04-05

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Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CN201593046U (en) * 2009-11-30 2010-09-29 财团法人石材暨资源产业研究发展中心 Gas-lift circulating algae incubator
US20140242681A1 (en) * 2013-02-28 2014-08-28 Julian Fiorentino Photobioreactor
CN104328044A (en) * 2014-10-31 2015-02-04 中国科学院大连化学物理研究所 Illumination-carbon dioxide united-regulation and control photo-bioreactor
EP2840128A1 (en) * 2013-08-19 2015-02-25 Francesc Llado Contijoch Photobioreactor, process and system for algae growth
WO2016086165A1 (en) * 2014-11-28 2016-06-02 The Arizona Board Of Regents On Behalf Of The University Of Arizona Accordion air loop bioreactor

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CN201593046U (en) * 2009-11-30 2010-09-29 财团法人石材暨资源产业研究发展中心 Gas-lift circulating algae incubator
US20140242681A1 (en) * 2013-02-28 2014-08-28 Julian Fiorentino Photobioreactor
EP2840128A1 (en) * 2013-08-19 2015-02-25 Francesc Llado Contijoch Photobioreactor, process and system for algae growth
CN104328044A (en) * 2014-10-31 2015-02-04 中国科学院大连化学物理研究所 Illumination-carbon dioxide united-regulation and control photo-bioreactor
WO2016086165A1 (en) * 2014-11-28 2016-06-02 The Arizona Board Of Regents On Behalf Of The University Of Arizona Accordion air loop bioreactor

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