Stig A. Borgvang

Head of Department/Head of Research

(+47) 458 67 258

Ås H7

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 7, 1433 Ås


With regard to the rapidly growing world population, microalgae can be regarded as one of the most promising resources for the sustainable supply of commodities for food and feed applications. Although the use of commercial microalgae for food has been mainly limited to dietary supplements, the recent development of more cost-effective production technology makes it feasible to explore various other food applications. In the project ALGAE TO FUTURE, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, we have developed a consortium of 20 research and industry partners to approach this topic from multiple angles merging multiple research fields. The Vision is to contribute towards a viable Norwegian microalgae industry within 10 years. The focus of the research is on bioprocess developments linked to lipids, carbohydrates and proteins, where cultivation conditions are used to obtain microalgae biomass with specific nutrient composition targeting specific products, without use of GMO. We have chosen to target the development of 3 example products, namely bread, beer and aquaculture feed, that will be produced in a commercial context towards the end of the project. These case studies have been chosen in order to demonstrate the use of algal biomass from various algae species with highly different nutrient composition suitable for different products. The project combines expertise on algae cultivation and optimisation at lab and pilot scales, fish feeding technology, biorefining, bioeconomy, baking technology, broadcast journalism and animation, food quality and safety with the experience of innovative farmer entrepreneurs, professional bakers, brewers and fish-feed producers in a cross-disciplinary manner.


Several species of microalgae and phototrophic bacteria are able to produce hydrogen under certain conditions. A range of different photobioreactor systems have been used by different research groups for lab-scale hydrogen production experiments, and some few attempts have been made to upscale the hydrogen production process. Even though a photobioreactor system for hydrogen production does require special construction properties (e.g., hydrogen tight, mixing by other means than bubbling with air), only very few attempts have been made to design photobioreactors specifically for the purpose of hydrogen production. We have constructed a flat panel photobioreactor system that can be used in two modes: either for the cultivation of phototrophic microorganisms (upright and bubbling) or for the production of hydrogen or other anaerobic products (mixing by “rocking motion”). Special emphasis has been taken to avoid any hydrogen leakages, both by means of constructional and material choices. The flat plate photobioreactor system is controlled by a custom-built control system that can log and control temperature, pH, and optical density and additionally log the amount of produced gas and dissolved oxygen concentration. This paper summarizes the status in the field of photobioreactors for hydrogen production and describes in detail the design and construction of a purpose-built flat panel photobioreactor system, optimized for hydrogen production in terms of structural functionality, durability, performance, and selection of materials. The motivations for the choices made during the design process and advantages/disadvantages of previous designs are discussed.

To document


Hydrogen production through biological routes is promising because they are environmentally friendly. Hydrogen production through biophotolysis or photofermentation is usually a two stage process. In the first stage CO2 is utilized for biomass production which is followed by hydrogen production in the second stage in anaerobic/sulfur deprived conditions in the next stage. The major challenges confronting the large scale production of biomass/hydrogen are limited not only on the performance of the photo bioreactors in which light penetration in dense cultures is a major bottleneck but also on the microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology of the organisms. Other dependable factors include area/ volume (A/V) ratio, mode of agitation, temperature and gas exchange. Photobioreactors of different geometries are reported for biohydrogen production-Tubular, Flat plate, Fermentor type etc. Every reactor has its own advantages and disadvantages. No reactor is ideal for this purpose. Airlift, helical tubular and flat plate reactors are found most suitable with respect to biomass production. These bioreactors may be employed for hydrogen production with necessary modifications to overcome the existing bottlenecks like gas hold up, oxygen toxicity and improved agitation system. This review article attempts to focus on existing photobioreactors with respect to biomass generation and hydrogen production and the steps taken to improve its performance through engineering innovation that definitely help in the future construction of photobioreactors.