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Algal Summit in India Explores Diverse Applications
February 27, 2012
he Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Indian Phycological Society held their International Algal Summit February 21-22 at the TERI University, in New Delhi. Billed as “Algae for Sustainable Development,” the event was attended by over 100 Indian participants, both from academia and corporates, and 10 overseas participants from Brazil, Poland, Japan, Israel, USA, Australia, Belgium, and Malaysia. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and Reliance Industries sponsored the summit.
Issues discussed during the sessions primarily addressed the role and potential of algae for various crucial applications that can make a sustainable impact in today’s society. Biofuels from algae, marine farming of macroalgae, carbon sequestration, nutraceutical and protein supplements from algae, gene applications of microalgae, and, effluent remediation were some of the main topics.
Among the presentations, H.E. Ambassador Manish Uprety (Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition -IIMSAM) talked about Spirulina as the prime candidate to address global malnutrition. A plenary lecture was presented on transferring microalgal omega-3 acid genes to terrestrial oil crops to make omega-3 fatty acids available in mainstream vegetable oils. Microalgae were also reported on for their anti-cancer and anti-diabetic potential.
Algae as an important candidate for carbon sequestration – the effect of increased carbon dioxide concentration in growth medium, facility construction around power plant emissions, and species that can handle increased acidity, temperature and sulphur concentration were discussed.
Dr. Prakash Hirani (National Thermal Power Corporation) talked about NTPC’s plans, along with Indian Oil Corporation, to set up raceway ponds for carbon dioxide capture at their gas-based power plant at Faridabad. Algae for waste water treatment, in conjunction with using wastewater as a free nutrient and water source for its growth, was stressed as an important dual potential to consider. A case study on bioremediation of organic textile dye effluent was also presented.
Dr. Diels Ludo (Vito, Belgium) presented his company’s two dimensional gas chromatography technique for algae screening and Integrated Permeate Channel (IPC) filtration technique for microalgae harvest. TERI and Vito are also discussed their process of establishing a joint lab to work on biomass research with algae as one of the main focuses.
A total of 42 posters were presented. Blue green algae were highlighted for their biofertilizer applications, as well as for their potential as agricultural pesticides, antibacterial agents in aquaculture, and for controlling harmful algal blooms. Algae that live on extreme habitats were discussed with respect to defense applications and implications for life beyond Earth.
Combining the culture collections in the three Indian repositories reported at the summit add up to more than 3500 strains for the various algal applications discussed. Advanced DNA barcoding for species identification was discussed.
Dr. Syed Isa Ali (Algaetech, Malaysia) talked about his company’s success in setting up large-scale microalgae cultivation facilities for food and nutraceutical applications in various parts of the world. He was upbeat that the same can be done for biofuels in due course of time.
The summit presented an informative international picture of the wide range of applications of algae, their role in sustainable development, on-going research and commercial activities, and future prospects and pathways. For more information on the summit: http://www.teriin.org/index.php?option=com_events&task=details&sid=479