Algae cultivation in plastic tubes compared to tubular glass PBRs

How it works
Advantages and Disadvantages
Application Scenarios


Algae cultivation in flat panel reactors compared to tubular glass PBRs 

Operating Principles 
Advantages and Disadvantages
Application Scenarios 


Algae cultivation in plastic bags in comparison to tubular glass PBR

Advantages and Disadvantages
Application Scenarios


Comparison of technologies for the cultivation of algae

Open raceway ponds, tubular glass photobioreactors and systems with disposable polymer materials


Increased efficiency with a PBR made of high end glass

Lower costs and higher productivity through innovative solutions


The top 5 innovations in glass photobioreactors of the last 5 years

Higher productivity and lower costs in algae cultivation through innovation


Why is a photobioreactor made from high end glass far more efficient?

The five main reasons why you should focus your attention on selecting the right glass components


Features and Benefits of Borosilicate Glass vs. Polymer Materials

Light Transmission

  • Excellent light transmission
  • No solarization or browning effect
  • No UV-protective additive or coating necessary to secure material properties
  • Lifetime of Borosilicate glass tubing > 50 years

Fire protection

  • Glass does not burn or give off toxic fumes


  • Glass is a chemically highly resistant material. With plastic tubing, depending on the polymer type, monomers or oligomers of hazardous substances such as Bisphenol-molecules can be leached into the algae culture.


  • Mechanical stability allows continuous in-line cleaning with polymer pellets
  • Chemical stability allows cleaning with regular common chemical cleaning agents
  • Lower material and maintenance costs compared to quality polymer tubes

Thermal stability

  • No need for expansion loops due to low thermal expansion
Example: for 5.5 m long tubes and a temperature increase of 20 °C/ 36 °F the expansion of Borosilicate glass is only 0.36 mm/0.01’’ while polymers expand from 3.3-8.8 mm/0.13’’-0.35’’ depending on polymer type

Cost saving

  • No need for tube replacement over the normal lifetime of the algae production plant
  • Reduced number of racks due to high mechanical stability, which allows increased tube support distances without sagging of tubes. Example: double distance compared to PMMA
  • Reduced number of connections due to standard tube length of 5.5 m
Borosilicate glass
Sagging of water filled tubes (outer diameter 65mm, wall thickness 2.2mm, length 2.75 m). The sag of the glass and polymer tubes is 0.5 mm and 8.6 mm, respectively. The polymer tube would need to be supported every 1.5 m for the same sag as the glass tube (support every 2.75 m).


  • No permanent deformation of glass tubes in contrast to polymer tubes

See also

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