Microalgae consist of single cells but are capable of producing everything from food to fuel with the help of tailor-made LED-lighting.
“We’re working to synthesise raw materials for biofuels, cosmetics and health food, and ingredients which can replace fish oil in fish farm feed, by means of so-called phototrophic production using algae,” says Andreas Hagemann, a SINTEF research scientist.
“We extract Omega 3 fatty acids from fish which absorb them from their food, such as small crustaceans, and which in turn have obtained them by grazing on microalgae”, he says.
Hagemann is standing in his lab in Trondheim, Norway, beside something which looks like a glowing advertising sign, but which in fact consists of small light panels covered with light-emitting diodes.
Alongside it are four small glass flasks containing a bubbling liquid looking a bit like a yellow-green smoothie. This is the green alga Haematococcus pluvialis. It is reproducing, and the bubbles cause the liquid to circulate so that the algae are exposed to equal amounts of light.
“The light intensity is significantly reduced not far inside the flasks,” Hagemann explains. The lab spectacles he is wearing are actually sunglasses because although the light is not harmful to his eyes, it is tiring to work in such strong light for an extended period.
A living factory
What we are looking at is a small algal factory which can produce a range of different nutrients, thanks to the small light-emitting diodes.
“We’ve known for some time that micro-organisms that convert light energy to chemical energy respond differently, depending on the type and amount of light to which they are exposed,” explains Hagemann.
This is where the LED technology comes into its own. LEDs can be controlled much more precisely than other types of light sources. By tailoring the light’s spectrum, intensity and duration, researchers can influence the production of interesting compounds by the algae.
“For example, we can illuminate the alga in such a way that it becomes stressed. It then produces a “smart” substance which it uses to protect itself against the stress,” explains Hagemann, who works in SINTEF’s Department of Marine Resource Technology, which researches mainly into organisms close to the bottom of the marine food chain.
“This technology can provide us with a number of raw materials which can be used in everything from medicines to fuel”, he says.
Lights from the mountain village
SINTEF researchers Andreas and Matilde Chauton are currently carrying out lab tests to see how the intensity of the light emitted by the diodes with different light spectra affects different single-celled organisms. The goal is to get them to produce the fatty acid EPA and the antioxidant astaxanthin, which are both in demand in the health food industry.
They are working on assignment for Evolys, a Norwegian company based in the small mountain village Trysil, which is developing and manufacturing various forms of lighting for use in the agriculture and aquaculture industries. Determining the potential of light, and particularly of LED technology, to influence the “production capacity” of algae is an important area of focus for the company.
“Microalgae represent an exciting new industry,” says the company’s founder, Kristoffer Lindback Larsen. “And supplying products based on this science is an important part of our business concept. We are therefore collaborating with SINTEF to discover more about how light affects microalgae, including their growth and the substances of interest they may contain. We want to use this knowledge to develop methods which achieve our goal as effectively as possible. We believe this will improve growth in the industry and increase production by our customers. Much of the knowledge we need originates in SINTEF’s laboratory,” he explains.
From biofuels to animal feed
This new industry has enormous potential. Using microalgae, a growth medium containing nitrogen and phosphorous, carbon dioxide and the right type of light, it is possible to generate a wide range of useful and valuable substances which otherwise are in short supply.
“This is a small industry at present, but globally we believe it will grow rapidly. Our aim is to be ready with Norwegian skills and products,” says Lindback Larsen. “Light is by far the most important factor when producing phototrophic microalgae, and just a small adjustment of the light can be a “make or break” factor for our customers,” he says.
Learn more: Developing biological micro-factories with LED
The Latest on: Algal factory
via Google News
The Latest on: Algal factory
- Algae Cleaner Market Share Worldwide Industry Growth, Size, Statistics, Industry Key Features, Opportunities & Forecasts up to 2025on October 11, 2021 at 9:51 pm
Global " Algae Cleaner Market " (2021-2025) present scenario and growth prospects of pin-point analysis for changing competitive dynamics and a forward-looking perspective on different factors driving ...
- Lioce's Pressure Washing is a Top-Rated Power Washing Specialist in Fort Myers, FLon October 7, 2021 at 10:02 am
Fort Myers, FL – While Florida is a great place to live, homeowners face some challenges due to the high humidity and tropical climate, as this tends to cause mold and algae growth, along with ...
- Pond Tech Revolutionizes Carbon Capture Market with Scalable Algae Platformon October 6, 2021 at 6:27 am
Advertiser Disclosure The following post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga. Although the ...
- Suit Claims EPA-Approved Rules Put Montana Waterways at Riskon October 4, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Montana rivers and waterways are in store for toxic algae blooms thanks to the Trump administration ... Nutrient pollution arrives in waterways from various sources, including factory farm runoff, ...
- 8 Sea Vegetables You Can Cook Withon October 1, 2021 at 5:00 pm
A guide to umami-rich seaweeds, algae and other edible plants of the sea ... And with micro nutrients declining in soils due to factory farming and climate change, plants that grow in the ocean could ...
- Pond Technologies' Proprietary Algae Platform Could Help Multiple Industries Turn Emissions into Revenue Streamson September 30, 2021 at 3:00 pm
Even with political momentum building, analysts estimate that a complete transition away from fossil fuels will take anywhere from 30 to 100 years. With the effects of the climate crisis ...
- Europe starts cleaning up its act to save the Baltic Seaon September 30, 2021 at 9:57 am
Nutrient runoff causes algal blooms, depleting oxygen and making ... In Soviet times, there was a tyre repair factory just next to it. When the factory was operational, its grounds were drenched ...
- DEM to stock local waters with trouton September 29, 2021 at 5:20 pm
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management will begin stocking trout in fresh waters across Rhode Island from Friday, Oct. 1, to Friday, Oct. 8, for the fall ...
- Seaweed to cow feed: Why is Sweden building the world’s largest algae factory?on September 24, 2021 at 6:31 am
A Swedish start-up is building the world’s largest algae factory to create emission-reducing seaweed feed for cattle. But how do you reduce greenhouse gases from the world’s most polluting animal? 4 ...
- Seaweed to cow feed: Why is Sweden building the world’s largest algae factory?on September 23, 2021 at 5:00 pm
A Swedish start-up is building the world’s largest algae factory to create emission-reducing seaweed feed for cattle. But how do you reduce greenhouse gases from the world’s most polluting animal?
via Bing News