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Bühler technology increases the efficiency of microalgae processing

Bühler Stellar technology is based on nanosecond pulsed electric fields and will be used to increase the efficiency of microalgae processing in the Singaporean Urban Microalgae Protein project.

Iris+with+Microalgae+Flask
Iris Haberkorn, project lead “Urban Microalgae Protein” Project SEC, with microalgae flask.

August 31, 2022

Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) and Swiss Bühler Group announce the deployment of Bühler’s state-of-the-art Stellar Gemini system at SEC’s Urban Microalgae Protein project laboratory in Singapore. The Stellar technology, a world first developed by Bühler, is based on nanosecond pulsed electric fields. It will be used to increase the efficiency of microalgae processing. With its installation, the Urban Microalgae Protein project reaches a new milestone.

The SEC’s Urban Microalgae Protein project aims to develop a sustainable, urban single-cell protein production platform and microalgae-based food concepts with taste and nutrition profiles that meet consumer preferences. This three-year project is based in Singapore and is supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) program.

“The Stellar technology will enable us to deliver industry-relevant results to improve the eco-efficiency and productivity of microalgae supply chains by establishing a pulsed electric field (PEF)-based biorefinery as part of the Urban Microalgae Protein project,” said Iris Haberkorn, project lead and senior scientist at SEC.

The first of its kind, Stellar technology uses nanosecond pulsed electric field processing to grow single-cell cultures, like microalgae, at a faster rate without biologically altering them. Stellar Gemini is the name of the device that enables the application of these pulses.

“The installed Stellar Gemini system enables application development and initial scale-up to pilot scale on a flexible and easy-to-use platform. Operators have access to Bühler's extensive know-how while having full flexibility for independent application development, ensuring maximum efficiency in process development,” said Leandro Buchmann, project manager bioprocessing at Bühler.

“Nanosecond pulsed electric field processing can have a tremendous impact on the bio-based domain and the alternative protein sector focusing on single-cell-based value chains. Our research delivers the fundamentals to further leverage the technology,” said Iris Haberkorn. “This is a step forward towards securing the supply of food and establishing resilient, sustainable agri-food systems.”

The deployment of the Stellar technology system is a result of the strong longstanding collaboration between the Bühler Group and ETH Zurich, which supports the SEC Microalgae project with know-how, experience, and expertise.

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