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Scale Up

Qatar expanding algae cultivation program

April 18, 2016
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Qatar University currently operates an algae testing plant in Al Khor for its Algal Technologies Programme.

Qatar University currently operates an algae testing plant in Al Khor for its Algal Technologies Programme.

J dropcapoey Aguilar reports for the Gulf Times that the Algal Technologies Programme (ATP) in Qatar will develop a new system to protect its algae cultivation from possible damages caused by evaporation of water and sandstorms.

The program, a collaboration among Qatar University (QU), Qatar Airways, and Qatar Science and Technology Park, seeks to develop sustainable technologies from algae aimed at protecting the environment and diversifying the country’s economy.

“The problems we face in Qatar in algae production are water evaporation, excessive light, and sand contamination,” ATP manager Dr. Hareb Mohamed al-Jabri told Gulf Times.

He said the new system – a combination of “closed and open” systems, and possibly the first-of-its-kind – will be applied during the demonstration, pre-commercial and commercial phases of the program.

Starting from one hectare, the plant may expand up to 100 hectares. According to Dr. al-Jabri, the system will use a mechanism that controls the exposure of algae strains to sunlight and keeps them safe from sandstorms.

Keeping the strains in a closed or covered area will also prevent further water evaporation from the pool where the algae are cultivated, he said.

QU currently operates an algae testing plant at its farm in Al Khor for the program, using a more classic system consisting of open race-way ponds with paddle wheels and closed flat panel photo bioreactors. “Our main aim is to go from the research and development phase to the demo, pilot and then to the implementation/commercialization,” Dr. al-Jabri said.

QU has been collaborating with government agencies including the Ministry of Municipality and Environment and Public Works Authority, among others, and with the private sector, to apply what has been learned during the R&D phase.

The program is focusing on producing animal and marine feeds, which at this time are more feasible. Once fully operational, ATP sees the possibility of Qatar exporting algae products, depending on the demand.

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