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Algal biofuel production center launched in India

October 9, 2015
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Students observing the Microalgal Mass Cultivation Centre at Bharathidasan University in Tiruchi, India. Photo: B.Velankanni Raj

Students observing the Microalgal Mass Cultivation Centre at Bharathidasan University in Tiruchi, India. Photo: B.Velankanni Raj

TheHindu.com reports that the Department of Microbiology of Bharathidasan University (BU), in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India, has set up a permanent Microalgal Mass Cultivation Centre for production of cyanobacterial and microalgal biomass that could be converted into biofuel.

The Centre was set up at a cost of Rs.14.3 million (US$221,000) sanctioned by the Department of Biotechnology under an Indo-UK collaborative research project directed by N.Thajuddin, Head of the Department of Microbiology at BU.

The Indo-UK project, in collaboration with Dr. Carole Llewellyn, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, United Kingdom, is aimed at utilization of wastewater for microalgal biomass production and conversion of the biomass into bio-energy.

Explaining the objectives of the Centre, Mr.Thajuddin said that production of biofuel from microalgae could appear expensive, as the technology has not yet been perfected. But cost reduction, together with wastewater treatment, is feasible using algae and cyanobacteria. In wastewater, several species of algae can be found with a complement of inherent bacteria. These associated bacteria help produce higher yields of the raw materials for biofuel, he said.

The Centre has two raceway ponds for microalgal biomass production, which would then be converted into biodiesel, bio-ethanol or bio-butanol. The raceway ponds will also be used to optimize growth conditions for sustained large-scale microalgal production and development of economic cultivation technology.

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