Growing algae can require a lot of time and water to grow. US researchers have now developed a way to grow algae in days instead of weeks.
Algae is a promising raw material. Oil from the algae can be used as a petroleum alternative and algae also can be used as food, feed, fibre, fertiliser, pigments and pharmaceuticals. Sciencedaily reports that researchers from Washington State University developed a unique biofilm reactor that recycles gasses and uses less water and lower light than typical reactors.
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. 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 becomes a very efficient factory in which the nutrients are supplied by the medium, but the cell metabolism meets its carbon dioxide requirements internally.
The researchers have filed a patent application on the technology and are working to optimise the process.