Connecticut Patent of the Month – May 2022

There has been growing interest in the use of algae as a sustainable protein source, as well as in plastics, cosmetics and more. While algae are the fastest growing plant organisms, bioreactors are used to accelerate this growth even further. Field Energy, LLC have recently developed a bioreactor which is suitable for heterotrophic algae growth while remaining cost effective.  

Their bioreactor is designed to replicate a plastic bag. While designed with heterotrophy in mind, the translucent plastic allows light penetration, which means mixotrophic algae can thrive as well. In this case, mixotrophic algae would feed on other sources of food as well as use light as an energy source. 

The bag can connect to multiple coupling devices which can be used to easily add or remove contents from the reactor. For instance, a device to create microbubbles which improve light penetration is positioned along the bottom interior of the bag. This micro bubbler directs a supply of oxygen into the diffuser which forms the micro bubbles. As the bubbles rise, they coalesce and create macro bubbles. The different speeds of micro and macro bubbles provide a great range of oxygen transfer for the algae.  

To achieve a completely sterile environment, the bag is gamma irradiated after fabrication. In fact, any tubing, coupling devices, and ports are entirely gamma irradiated. 

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