Scale-up to pilot scale: production of EPA-containing Phaeodactylum-tricornutum biomass

Objective and background

The aim of the project is to provide Phaeodactylum-tricornutum biomass as a raw material source for food production. It contains up to 5 percent (w/w) EPA, but also carotenoids or ß-glucans, and up to 50 percent proteins. All these ingredients are to be used as components or substitutes of food with additional functions as part of the Baden-Württemberg Bioeconomy research programme.

Technology Transfer

This process was then transferred to the pilot plant of the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP, with the aim of achieving high biomass productivity and a high EPA content. Important parameters for the transfer are:

  • Maximum nutrient concentration (ammonium, phosphate)
  • Maximum and optimal relative light availability (µmol photons g TS-1 s-1)
  • TS area for high productivity and light yield under given outdoor lighting conditions

Scale-up of production to the field

© Fraunhofer IGB
Outdoor facility at the Fraunhofer CBP

The Fraunhofer CBP has a pilot plant with a total of 110 reactors with a greenhouse and an outdoor area. 60 180-liter reactors with a capacity of 10.8 m³ are available for the production of the biomass required for fractionation and testing in food.


  • In the field, select the highest and narrowest possible dry substance range for the scale-up in order to achieve optimum productivity
  • Do not dilute below critical TS due to intensity peaks
  • Use low night temperatures to increase productivity