Bendy Estime, a biomedical and chemical engineering Ph.D. candidate at Syracuse University in New York, has developed a new technology for energy efficient cultivation and harvesting of microalgae.
Estime’s research was published as a peer-reviewed article in Scientific Reports on Jan. 19, 2017. He and his research advisors, Distinguished Professor Radhakrishna Sureshkumar, chair of the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering, and Professor Dacheng Ren, have secured a provisional patent for the technology.
The growth medium developed, Tris-Acetate-Phosphate-Pluronic (TAPP), addresses three of the main “bottlenecks” in microalgae cultivation including; its tendency to stick to the walls of containers, therefore blocking out necessary light needed for growth; the constant need for stirring to make sure that light reaches the right places; and the final, time-consuming task of separating the algae from the broth.
An article appearing on phys.org quotes Estime saying, "The industrial applications of this system are appealing. This system would harvest microalgae 10 times faster than traditional systems and in an energy-efficient fashion."
Photo: Bala Rathinasabapathi, a UF/IFAS professor of horticultural sciences, works in his lab in Gainesville. He and his colleagues may have found a key to converting algae to fuel.