The modular nature of Compass Biotechnologies’ algae growth system allows installation in existing structures with few modifications. This flexibility gives Compass Biotechnologies a significant competitive advantage by reducing capital requirements and decreasing launch time of planned facilities. Compass Biotechnologies is utilizing existing structures (closed manufacturing units) to set up initial facilities.

Compass Biotechnologies Photo-Bioreactor System

  • Offers maximum efficiency in using light and reducing space requirements, as there is no reliance on natural sunlight
  • Enables 24/7 growth
  • Uses vertical space (mezzanine design)
  • Reduces labor requirements and eliminates handling problems, as the system is fully automated
  • Ability to operate for long periods without culture crashes
  • A dramatic reduction in fouling, as the system is self-cleaning
  • Cultures are stored hygienically, as the system is closed, controlled and automated
  • Low probability of oxygen poisoning, as the system automatically releases all oxygen
  • In contrast, most competing algae production is done using open pond technology (using open ponds as a growth medium for algae).

    The disadvantages of pond technology include susceptibility to natural wind-borne contamination by other algae strains, significant evaporation, lack of temperature control, restrictions from a day-to-night light cycle, and vast land requirements.

Changing the Future

Compass Biotechnologies is focused on utilizing an artificial growth medium to deal with the challenges faced by the pond technology. In addition, Compass Biotechnologies has developed a solution that takes into account the opportunities of setting up a PBR vertical system near industrial CO2 sources which is much more practical than building a large scale open pond requiring hundreds of acres of land. The companies utilizing pond technology face significant challenges for maintaining their cultures because of the constant contamination.

Another technology being developed in the market is fermentation based. Essentially algae are grown in the dark over the course of seven to ten days and fed sugars (sugar cane currently). It is not a sustainable technology as it is dependent on available feedstock, which it must be in relatively close proximity to minimize delivery costs. Fermentation companies are subjected to the same challenges that biodiesel and corn-based ethanol companies faced, affordable feedstock. It is a highly capital intensive process and requires large-scale facilities to achieve economies of scale. There are other PBR based companies, but none with designs similar to ours. Most of them utilize tubes located outdoor to capture sunlight and hence are limited by the temperature swings. Some are using inexpensive bags, such as Valcent and Sapphire, to optimize costs, but are still far away from the results achieved by Compass Biotechnologies’ technology.