item designs a module enclosure for algae farming

Ergonomic removal of heavy containers 

Equipment used in the life sciences sector has to satisfy special requirements. For example, Polish company Algae Labs Sp. z o.o. needed a modular enclosure for six photobioreactors used to cultivate microalgae for deriving astaxanthin, a substance used in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. Built using aluminium profiles from item Industrietechnik, the construction had to be large enough for production requirements, but also enable ergonomic removal of heavy containers. It also had to be assembled under cleanroom conditions to prevent any contamination of the algae cultures.  

Algae Labs Sp. z.o.o. is a young Polish company based in Wroclaw Technology Park that employs eleven members of staff who carry out research into microalgae. The company’s core activities include research and development into the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis and the production and commercialization of astaxanthin. This natural blood-red keto-carotenoid is extracted from the microalgae using a multi-stage process. The substance is said to have vitamin-like and antioxidant properties, which is why it is of interest to the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. 

In their efforts to create a new module system, the company executives opted for profiles made of aluminium, so Algae Labs turned to item Industrietechnik. The task was to plan and design a modular enclosure for a station incorporating photobioreactors where biomass would be cultivated. Besides factoring in the dimensions of the six installed plants – 250 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm – the enclosure design also had to accommodate their enormous weight of 250 kg. The sterile nature of the factory equipment was another key factor, as the microalgae is susceptible to contamination from other algae, fungi and bacteria. To ensure the containers can be cleaned thoroughly and regularly, the module enclosure had to be engineered so that the photobioreactors could be easily taken out and replaced at any time.  

item worked closely with representatives from Algae Labs to design a structure made of aluminium profiles that was manufactured to specific guidelines and matched the process requirements precisely. The multi-chambered frame allows the lab technicians to control individual processes in the cultivation of microalgae separately. Once that process is complete, the bioreactor can be ergonomically and safely lifted out. The modular enclosure was prepared by item and the team from Algae Labs assembled it independently. “The aluminium profiles from item impressed us right from the start with their modular design, compatibility and high-end look,” explains Michał Grzebyk, Deputy Director of Algae Labs. “The system was set up quickly to the full satisfaction of both our technical expectations and our design requirements.” More solutions have been built using aluminium profiles from item since the successful design collaboration and the installation of the module enclosure. 

Michał Grzebyk feels the item solutions are ideal for use in the life sciences sector because they support customised engineering that factors in laboratory requirements. The profiles are assembled under cleanroom conditions and there is always the option of making last-minute changes to projects that have already been designed. “That allows us, on the one hand, to implement different processes and, on the other, to incorporate new ideas,” says the Deputy Director. 

Length: 3,765 characters including spaces

Date: February 2018

About item

item Industrietechnik GmbH is a global market leader in building kit systems for industrial applications and employs around 500 members of staff. It has been designing and marketing construction solutions for machinery, fixtures and plants since 1976. The product portfolio comprises more than 3,500 high-quality components designed for use in machine bases, work benches, automation solutions and lean production applications. Thanks to the inclusion of transport solutions and dynamic elements, the company’s products can cover virtually all working processes, from manual production to automated manufacturing. The highly skilled employees work day-in, day-out to develop innovative solutions for state-of-the-art mechanical engineering and also offer exceptional consulting services. item is headquartered in Solingen, Germany. Eleven branches and support centres ensure the company is always close to customers in Germany. The group has wholly owned subsidiaries in the USA, China, Italy, Poland and Switzerland.

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