Progress in algae cultivation and algae preconcentration
A major topic in the Miracles project is the improvement of production and harvesting of algal biomass to achieve substantial cost reduction through: (1) Development of tools and strategies to optimize the concentration of target biomolecules in the algal biomass; (2) An innovative technology for CO2 concentration from the atmosphere; (3) A novel Photo Bioreactor concept and (4) Application of a novel membrane based technology for combined harvesting and medium recycling
This year was very productive regarding the algae cultivation and algae preconcentration. Our partner, Fitoplancton Marino, selected among the earlier identified indicator genes, a promising gene (LPAT4) for rapid analysis of the TAG-synthesis status in algae cultures. New experiments were initiated to detail the correlation between gene expression and TAG-synthesis, allowing verifying and quantifying the predicting character of the indicator gene. In the work on CO2 capture from the atmosphere, Twente University, elaborated the first design for the CO2capturing device that is being verified. The estimated production costs are 50 euro/ton CO2. Wageningen University and University of Huelva are constructing an updated design of the liquid foam-bed reactor, aiming at (1) providing proof of principle, and (2) longer term operation. New surfactants are being evaluated to further optimize the process. Vito and Thomas More continued their activities related to medium recirculation. Lab scale water recirculation tests with Nannochloropsis gaditana and Scenedesmus obliquus revealed that 75-90% water recirculation is possible without negative impacts on algae growth when suitable doses of N and P are added. The integrated algae harvesting & water recycling unit, based on VITO´s IPC® submerged membranes has been up scaled and improved for performing medium recirculation tests at pilot scale in 300L & 1500L closed photobioreactors in the SUNBUILT facilities of VITO & Thomas More.