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PBR-L. Biologic solutions to environmental problems and animal feeding

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[PBR-L]Commercial_sheet_UPM_EN(Innovatech) PDF

Laminar photobioreactor for the production of algal biomass on a large scale

PBR-L is a photobioreactor for concentrated microalgae biomass production, based on the technique of immobilized cells and specially designed for CO2 capture and removal of nitrogen and phosphorus (eutrophication elements) in effluents from sewage treatment. It has been developed by the Agro-Energy Group of the Technical University of Madrid (UPM, Spain) and patented by UPM. 

The algal biomass produced can be used for fish farming as a source of fat and protein for fish nutrition. It can also be used as a raw material of biofuels (biodiesel, bioethanol, bio-kerosene, methane).

Technology Solution

photobioreactor, algal biomass, biofuels, wastewaterThe PBR-L is designed for removing eutrophication elements in wastewater -mainly phosphorus and nitrogen- and for the capture of CO2 and other flue gases from industry and transport.

In addition to the reduction and removal of these pollutants, abundant algal biomass with a number of uses and both feed and industrial applications, is produced.

Versus other present photobioreactors, PBR-L has the advantage of lower production costs and reduced energy consumption in algal biomass harvesting.

PBR-L has a modular design and easy installation, applicable to both small and large scale.


“PBR-L contributes to clean the environment while microalgal biomass is obtained simultaneously, potentially used as a raw material for the production of animal feed and biofuels”

Market demands

  • Environment
    • Global concern about the need of reducing  the concentration of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in secondary and tertiary effluents of urban and industrial wastewater treatment plants in order to prevent eutrophication of waterways and groundwater contamination. Currently in Spain only 11% of surface waters and 16% groundwaters meet the objectives of water quality set in the Water Framework Directive WFD, regarding N and P.
    • Reducing global anthropogenic CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, which -despite the Kyoto Protocol- have increased 1.7 % annually since 1990.
  • Agrifood
    • Global interest in the eradication of hunger and in meeting the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations MDGs .
    • Being able to feed a growing population that now exceeds 7 billion people, maintaining the balance between population and resources.
  • Energy
    • Interest in avoiding the consumption of fossil fuels by the substitution with biofuels by 10 % by 2020 .
Market potential

  • Environment
    • CO2 emissions will increase by 130% by 2050. The investment needed to halve emissions and develop an "international energy technology revolution" will require 45,000 million dollars by 2050. [International Energy Agency].
    •  Member states of the EU must establish measures to ensure that effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties are applicable to breaches of the WFD provisions [Water Framework Directive EU 2000/60/EC]
  • Agrifood Sector
    • Marine and inland aquaculture production in Spain in 2012 generated about 30 million Euros [Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment].
  • Energy Sector
    • The growth in world energy demand for the period 2013-2030 will be 32% [U.S. Energy Information Administration].
Competitive advantages

  • Compared to other microalgae production systems, with this new reactor we get higher biomass production with less humidity.
  •  It is specially designed to admit the entrance of flue gases from engines and heating systems, optimizing the contact of these gases with the cultivation of microalgae, which promotes their absorption and increases the production of algal biomass.
  • Optimal lighting of algae thanks to its laminar design.
  • Natural cooling through water evaporation.
  • Modular design for easy assembly, low cost and low energy requirements, which makes PBR-L an ideal solution for areas at any level of development.

photobioreactor, algal biomass, biofuels, wastewater  photobioreactor, algal biomass, biofuels, wastewater  photobioreactor, algal biomass, biofuels, wastewater

“The need of reducing air pollution caused by greenhouse gas emissions and contaminating effluents from wastewater treatments is a problem of growing interest worldwide”


  • The Agro- Energy Group of UPM has extensive experience in R&D on biomass and environment, having developed more than 50 projects awarded in public calls, from which 29 in international calls. 
  • They has granted 5 patents plus 2 Utility Models submitted for approval.

  • Patent granted in Spain ES2347515
Development stage

  • Concept
  • R&D
  • Lab-Prototype
  • Industrial Prototype
  • Production

PBR-L Contact

Jesús Fernandez Gonzalez

E-mail: j.fernandez@upm.es

Maribel Martín Girela

E-mail: isabel.marting@upm.es

UPM  contact

Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Area

Centre of Support for Technological Innovation 

Technical University of Madrid

e: innovacion.tecnologica@upm.es


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