Microalgae Research Facility

National Research Council Canada, Ketch Harbour, Nova Scotia
What the facility does

World-leading facility for the isolation, cultivation, processing and analysis of microalgae and microalgal by-products.

Areas of expertise

State of the art equipment exists within the facility to support the isolation and purification of novel strains of microalgae from environmental samples. Dedicated controlled environment facilities are available for microtiter plate and shake-flask screening work. Extensive capacity in benchscale (2 – 10 L) continuous cultivation systems is available. Larger scale microalgae cultivation equipment includes a fleet of Brite-Box photobioreactors (0.3 – 1 m3 volumetric capacity), a Biofence tubular photobioreactor system (2.4 m3 volumetric capacity) and a commercial cultivation system from Industrial Plankton Inc. (2.5 m3 volumetric capacity). Two process centrifugation systems are available for harvesting algal biomass and an industrial scale lyophilizer is used for freeze-drying biomass samples to 2-3% moisture. Supercritical CO2 extraction capabilities are in place for downstream processing of up to 5 L and an analytical laboratory is onsite for conducting biomass and extract analyses.

Research services

Services offered by the Microalgae Facility include:

  • smallscale shake-flask screening of proprietary strains
  • development of scaleup processes for production of whole biomass or specialty products from either native or engineered microalgal strains of interest at the kg scale of production
  • laboratory analyses (fatty acid profiling; total protein and carbohydrate; carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur (CHNS) elemental determination; biological gas exchange; capillary electrophoresis; total nitrogen; heats of combustion)
Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Ocean industries



DynaSep supercritical liquid CO2 bioactive extraction system

Physical and green technology extraction of microalgal biomass.

Controlled Environments

Growth chambers for controlled cultivation of algae.

Brite-Box Photobioreactors

Total volume of approximately 10,000L; intensive microalgae batch cultivation capacity.

Varicon Aqua BioFence photobioreactor

For intensive continuous cultivation of microalgae; volume of 2,400L.

Industrial Plankton Inc. Photobioreactors

Intensive continuous or batch microalgae cultivation; volume of 2,500L.