Washington State University researchers have developed a way to grow algae more efficiently — in days instead of weeks — and make the algae more viable for several industries, including biofuels.
Their work was reported in the journal Algal Research.
Researchers would like to produce algae efficiently because of its potential environmental benefits. Oil from the algae can be used as a petroleum alternative and algae also can be used as food, feed, fiber, fertilizer, pigments and pharmaceuticals. Growing and harvesting it in wastewater streams could also reduce the environmental footprint of many manufacturing processes.
But its use in industry hasn’t caught on primarily because it requires a lot of time and water to grow. Generally, large ponds are required, and harvesting is labor intensive. Researchers have begun developing biofilm reactors to grow the algae, but the reactors aren’t efficient because of pH or temperature variations or a limited supply of carbon dioxide gas.
Led by graduate student Sandra Rincon and her advisor, Haluk Beyenal, professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, the researchers developed a unique biofilm reactor that recycles gasses and uses less water and lower light than typical reactors.
The algae produced was full of the fats that make it suitable for biodiesel production and “fatter” than other biofilm reactors have produced. Because of a removable membrane, it was also easier to harvest than typical systems.
The system is unique because it allows the algae to simultaneously do photosynthesis like a plant while also “eating” carbon and respiring like an animal, said Beyenal. The researchers fed the algae glycerol, a cheap waste product of biodiesel production, and urea, another inexpensive chemical that serves as a nitrogen source for the algae. The system’s design means that carbon dioxide and oxygen are recycled in the system.
“The cell, in fact, becomes a very efficient factory in which the nutrients are supplied by the medium, but the cell metabolism meets its carbon dioxide requirements internally,” said Rincon.
Patent application filed
Like many new research efforts, the project was challenging, said Beyenal. He credits Rincon with her sustained efforts in spite of several setbacks that might have led others to quit and give up on the work.
“The idea is new,” said Beyenal. “Sandra demonstrated that it worked at the lab scale.”
The Latest on: Algae farming
- Kelp farming on Sweden's west coast: Environmentally friendly aquacultureon November 29, 2019 at 7:04 am
A new dissertation studies the best conditions for sustainable cultivation of the brown algae sugar kelp. The negative environmental effects of kelp cultivation is very limited, especially compared to ...
- Kelp farming on the west coast – environmentally friendly aquacultureon November 29, 2019 at 1:12 am
There is a growing interest of the cultivation of macro algae. A new dissertation studies ... according to studies from experiments in a two-hectare test farm in Kosterhavet at the Swedish west ...
- Cermaq says harmful algae are no longer causing salmon motalities at BC farmson November 27, 2019 at 12:59 pm
These mortalities are directly linked to the harmful algae becoming embedded in, and inflicting serious damage to the gills of our fish, which unfortunately, can be fatal. The mortalities are not ...
- Study: Farmer participation key to reducing algae bloomson November 27, 2019 at 5:17 am
The vast majority of farmers will have to implement multiple farming practices to reduce algae blooms in Lake Erie, according to a new study released by Ohio State University. “If we get to 80% ...
- Mass die-off at fish farm in Clayoquot Soundon November 24, 2019 at 6:59 pm
A fish farm in Clayoquot Sound is blaming an algae bloom for a mass die-off but as Paul Johnson reports, environmentalists say that’s not the root of the problem.
- Cermaq cleaning up after algae hits Clayoquot Sound fish farmson November 21, 2019 at 4:54 pm
The affected farms are at Binns Island, Bawden Point and Ross Pass, located around Herbert Inlet in Clayoquot Sound, according to farm operator Cermaq. These kinds of native algae — chaetoceros ...
- Cermaq cleaning up after algae hits fish farmson November 21, 2019 at 1:56 pm
The affected farms are at Binns Island, Bawden Point and Ross Pass, located in and around Herbert Inlet in Clayoquot Sound, according to the farm operator, Cermaq. These kinds of native algae — ...
- Editorial: Protecting the Great Lakes — from parched places far away and algae blooms withinon November 21, 2019 at 2:16 am
Rainfall can wash manure covering farm fields into streams and rivers, which eventually empty into the Great Lakes. Climate change is likely to aggravate these changes, and warmer temperatures speed ...
- Lake Erie provides drinking water for more people than any other, but algae blooms are making it toxicon November 20, 2019 at 7:01 am
washing bloom-inducing fertilizers from farm fields into Lake Erie. More frequent torrential downpours are also overpowering antiquated sewer systems at times, releasing a profusion of raw sewage into ...
- Three Cermaq salmon farms suffer mortalities due to algae bloomson November 20, 2019 at 4:02 am
The affected farms – Binns Island and Bawden Point located in Herbert Inlet and the Ross Pass farm, located in Ross Pass at the mouth of Herbert Inlet - have been taking measures to reduce the risk ...
via Google News and Bing News