R&D & Technology

Technology

After more than two decades of microalgae cultivation, several technologies were installed and operated in our site, such as raceways, closed photobioreactors (PBRs), and even Greenwalls (GW). Necton is perhaps the only company in the world that has tested so many different technologies, ranging from closed to open systems.

Microalgae cultivation implies a succession of dilution and concentration processes. A good quality of inocula is accomplished in our laboratory under controlled conditions, to avoid contaminations and optimise biochemical composition of microalgae. After growing the inocula indoors, it is possible to scale-up culture to PBRs placed outdoors, and slowly adapt the microalgae to environmental conditions.

Water used in our process is treated with mechanical (ultra-filtration) and chemical procedures to guarantee total absence of bacterial and protozoan growth.

We operate our systems under a semi-continuous regime with an “online set-point” of pH and temperature control, which regulates carbon dioxide supply and cooling. Automated control allows the maintenance of excellent growing conditions according to the different microalgae species. Biomass is harvested daily through a controlled centrifugation process. Microalgal cultures are controlled daily for nutrients, growth parameters, contaminations and biochemical quality.

We are running the 4th generation of productions systems. The first technology to be designed and operated in our facility, even before the company was established, were raceways to produce Dunaliella salina. Ponds were replaced by closed systems, named as “flat panel flow through” PBR.

Since 2006, we installed and operated the 3rd generation of PBRs, which consisted of a tubular PBR. Our technological portfolio of Necton was enlarged in 2007 with the installation of GW.

At the moment, we are designing a new facility that allow us to cultivate microalgae in tubular PBRs.