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PMF technology promotes algal growth

April 1, 2016 — by Dr. V Sivasubramanian, PERC, India
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Magnetobiology deals with the interaction of biological systems with weak static and/or low-frequency ultra-low intensity electro-magnetic fields. The nature of biological effects of weak electromagnetic fields remains unclear as yet, despite numerous experimental data.

Explanation of the physical nature of biological effects of weak magnetic fields is a fundamental scientific problem. The effects of weak magnetic and electromagnetic fields in biology have been intensively studied on animals, microorganisms and humans, but comparably less on plants. PERC in collaboration with Madras Institute of Magnetobiology (MIM), India has been studying this phenomenon for the last six years and developed an optimized technology for various algal processes.

A Pulsed Magnetic Field (PMF) enclosure has been installed in a 35 KL micro algal raceway facility at Bharathidasan University, India as part of Indo-UK joint research project on algal bio-fuels (DBT-INDIA BBSRC, UK supported project; Reference BT/IN/Indo-UK/SuBB/23/NT/2013).

The research team includes Dr. N. Thajuddin and Dr. G. Muralitharan of Bharathidasan University, India; Dr. V. Sivasubramanian, Director-Tech, Phycospectrum Environmental Research Centre (PERC), India: Dr. Carole Llewellyn, Swansea University; Dr. Daniel White and Dr. Karen Tait of Plymouth Marine Laboratory, United Kingdom.

This PMF enclosure is expected to enhance algal biomass productivity and increase oil content through an optimization protocol that is currently in progress. The idea of installing the world’s first ever PMF unit to a raceway pond is based on PERC’s (Phycospectrum Environmental Research Centre) collaborative project with a technical support from Madras Institute of Magnetobiology, India, which was supported by MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India during 2011.

The summary of the findings of this project is posted at MNRE website. MNRE’s support was given to PERC based on a research article published in Journal of Algal Biomass utilization (Sivasubramanian,V, V V Subramanian, Leela Priya,T, and R Murali. 2010. Application of Pulsed Magnetic Field in improving the quality of algal biomass. J. Algal Biomass Utln. 1 (4) : 1 – 9).

35 KL raceway pond facility at BDU, India, with PMF system installed

35 KL raceway pond facility at BDU, India, with PMF system installed

The findings of this project includes optimization of Sinusoidal Magnetic Field technology to enhance the qualitative and quantitative efficacy of algal biomass production and resulted in developing a magnetic field based technology to enhance biomass production and increase oil production in the microalgae tested.

Fig 1. Growth and biomass productivity of Chlorella vulgaris exposed to PMF

Fig 1. Growth and biomass productivity of Chlorella vulgaris exposed to PMF

Fig 2. Effect of PMF (10 HZ) on FAME % of Chlorella

Fig 2. Effect of PMF (10 HZ) on FAME % of Chlorella

Another important spin off of this research project was the application of PMF technology to enhance omega-3 production in micro algae.

Fig 3. Effect of PMF (10 HZ) on omega 3 fatty acid composition (%) of Chlorella vulgaris

Fig 3. Effect of PMF (10 HZ) on omega 3 fatty acid composition (%) of Chlorella vulgaris

Trials carried out by PERC with effluent from a textile industry revealed that application of PMF technology enhances remediation efficiency of micro algae based Phycoremediation process. Based on these trials a field scale PMF enclosure is being developed to be installed at effluent treatment facility at Pasupati Acrylon, India. This is expected to improve the efficiency of micro algae based system already in operation. (Pasupati Acrylon featured in an earlier issue of AIM).

Enhanced efficiency of Phycoremediation of textile industry effluent when exposed to pulsed magnetic field (PMF)

Enhanced efficiency of Phycoremediation of textile industry effluent when exposed to pulsed magnetic field (PMF)

In conclusion, PMF technology, when properly optimized, can be applied to multi-various algae based processes like oil production, nutraceuticals production and industrial effluent treatment etc. PERC has installed the first large scale pulsed magnetic field enclosure in a 35 KL algae raceway pond. Similar PMF units are going to be installed in large scale algae-based effluent treatment plants developed by PERC.

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