Syracuse researcher develops energy-efficient method to grow and harvest microalgae

February 2, 2017 |

In New York state, scientists have long known of the potential of microalgae to aid in the production of biofuels and other valuable chemicals. However, the difficulty and significant cost of growing microalgae have in some ways stalled further development of this promising technology. Bendy Estime, a biomedical and chemical engineering Ph.D. candidate at Syracuse University, has devoted his research to this area, and developed a new technology for energy efficient cultivation and harvesting of microalgae.

Estime’s research has been published as a peer-reviewed article in Scientific Reports on Jan. 19. Estime developed a new medium to culture and harvest microalgae. The medium, Tris-Acetate-Phosphate-Pluronic or TAPP, can transition from solution to a gel through relatively small variations in temperature. Microalgae are seeded in the medium at 15 degrees celsius. When the temperature is increased by seven degrees, the medium becomes gelatinous. In this new medium, microalgae grow in clusters that are up to 10 times larger than those grown in the traditional medium. Once they are grown, the temperature is decreased, and the medium is returned to a solution. The algae is separated out through gravity, and can then be harvested.

The medium prevents algae from growing on the sides of a container, letting light penetrate to each level of algae. This eliminates the need for constant stirring. When the medium is converted back to a solution, algae can be more easily separated out and removed from the container.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: ,

Category: Research

Thank you for visting the Digest.