[ad#PhycoBiosciences AIM Interview]

Innovations

MSU Researchers Develop E-photobioreactor

November 23, 2011, by Sara Matthews-Kaye
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

MSU Kramer lab graduate student, Chris Hall

MSU Kramer lab graduate student, Chris Hall, takes a sample of algae from an ePBR. Photo: MCH

Plant scientists at Michigan State have become assembly line workers for the production of what they call ePBR’s—laboratory-based algae photobioreactors that mimic the outdoor environment, simulating both sunshine and pond water, and still providing researchers a controlled environment to study algae.

With MSU biophysicist David Kramer and others, algal biologist Benjamin Lucker developed the ePBR to address laboratory challenges he faced several years ago while performing algal biofuel research in the Pacific Northwest. “I was working as a kind of prospector, isolating species, and working with regional companies,” Lucker said. “And what I realized was that, when I would take species back into the lab, I was growing them in conditions that had no relevance to what they’re being selected for.”

Those conditions include temperature, light, water pH, and carbon dioxide levels—all conditions that the environmental photobioreactor can control and measure.

The ePBR is a tubular container made from polycarbonate, a light-weight and durable hard plastic, and is surrounded by a metal jacket that controls the temperature. The top of the instrument provides light.

A laboratory’s air quality and room temperature can unintentionally affect the growth of algae and the study results.

“It’s a slice of a pond,” said Mimi Hall, CEO of Phenometrics Inc, the tech company manufacturing and selling the device. The sun is at the top, and the bottom is pond water where the algae sit at the same depth as they would outdoors.

“We created a tool to bring the outdoors, indoors,” Hall said. “It’s a tool that can create baseline scientific conditions for the study of algae. A computer sets the conditions in the container, and other labs can dial those in.”

A laboratory’s air quality and room temperature can unintentionally affect the growth of algae and the study results. The e-PBR allows laboratories to create identical growing environments and comparable data. “It’s creating a standard operating platform for algal research,” Lucker said.

He and others in the lab have been building 40 environmental photobioreactors destined for Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, MO.

The ePBR will make it easier to vary the environment to see algal responses to temperature and light.

At Donald Danforth the device will characterize algae strains. That helps study how different types of algae react under the same condition, or how one type reacts under a variety of conditions.

Ivan Baxter, a research computational biologist with the U.S.  Department of Agriculture, and an assistant member and principal investigator at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, is studying how the environment affects the growth and oil content of certain strains.

“The ePBR will make it easier to vary the environment to see algal responses to temperature and light,” Baxtor said. “It creates a tightly controlled environment.”

Lucker believes scientists will now be able to study algae in ways no one has before. “There are a lot of models for algae’s role in sustainability,” Lucker said.

© 2011, Great Lakes Echo, Michigan State University Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

Read Full Story

Go to Page

Copyright ©2010-2011 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

Visit the A.I.M. Archives

AIM interview ArchivesAlgae 101 ArchivesHot Products ArchivesInnovations ArchivesMoney ArchivesProcess ArchivesResearch ArchivesScale Up ArchivesThe Buzz Archives

FREE Algae News & Updates

Sign up to receive breaking A.I.M. updates!

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
A team of Michigan State University algae researchers have discovered a cellular "snooze button" that has the potential to improve biofuel production and offer ...
Algix, parent company of Solaplast, will be inaugurating their algae-to-plastic facility in Meridian, Mississippi, on November 14, 2014. Solaplast's facility will be focu...
On September 25, 2014, a photobioreactor for the cultivation of algae was officially unveiled during a seminar at Thomas More University College in Mechelen, Belgium. Und...
Phys.org reports that, in collaboration with the Berlin, Germany LED manufacturer FutureLED, scientists at the Technische Universität München have developed a unique comb...
As of March 1, 2015, bbi-biotech GmbH, of Berlin, Germany, has begun integrating IGV Biotech GmbH’s photobioreactors into its own life science product portfolio. A former...
Murdoch University researchers are investigating whether the effluent from piggeries can be effectively treated with micro- and macroalgae so that species of the organism...
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has named Solazyme CEO and co-founder Jonathan S. Wolfson as the recipient of its 2015 George Washington Carver Award for in...
The fully automated plant at the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP in Leuna, Germany, was designed to produce microalgae at industrial scale. ...
Jessie Rack reports for NPR that demand for plant protein of all types is growing in concert with the growing interest in the U.S. to reduce meat consumption. People, fro...
The Symbiosis Center in Denmark is exploring the industrial potential of microalgae, reports EUobserver's Regional Focus magazine. Using CO2 and light to produce valuable...
Jason Holland writes in SeafoodSounce.com that the ability of marine and freshwater algae to produce omega-3 oils makes them increasingly suitable for replacing price vol...
Jennifer Grebow writes in Nutritional Outlook that astaxanthin supplier AstaReal, of Burlington, NJ, one of the founding members of the Natural Algae Astaxanthin Associat...