Technology

“Red Tide” algae treating sewage in Hong Kong

February 12, 2014
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

A laboratory scientist at Hong Kong’s Open University monitors algae activity under a microscope.

A laboratory scientist at Hong Kong’s Open University monitors algae activity under a microscope.

Cheung Chi-fai writes in the South China Morning Post that a top research team from the Open University in Hong Kong has been encouraged by the government to test an emerging technology that uses algae to treat sewage and produce fuel.

Led by Professor Ho Kin-chung, dean of the university’s school of science and technology, the team plans to use local species of algae to test a treatment method that could one day be used to produce energy, purify water and reduce waste.

Ho, an expert in the rapid growth of certain algae that cause red tides, hopes to secure HK$10 million ($1.29 million USD) from the government’s Innovation and Technology Fund for a pilot scheme at a treatment works in North District which he said could help Hong Kong diversify its economy.

The public in Hong Kong often associates algae blooms with the 1998 red-tide disaster that wiped out 80 per cent of fish farm stock, but Ho said many blooms were useful. Since algae feed on nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen, they can help remove pollutants from sewage and minimize the generation of sludge, he said.

According to the researchers, the algae they have studied could comprise up to 30 per cent oil. Ho said the exponential growth of the single-cell algae could quickly create a bloom mature enough for oil harvest.

Ho acknowledged that putting the idea into practice might be challenging both financially and logistically. “The problem is not with the theory. The real difficulty is how to industrialize it, making it cost-effective so that investors feel confident to make a bet on us.”

The team estimates that just a single ton of oil could be harvested from an average 2.5-hectare algae farm per day. So algae must be farmed in a more efficient and cheaper way, said Ho. But he said the process should deliver a variety of benefits that would make it economically viable, including sewage treatment and water purification. In addition, the algae naturally carry out photosynthesis – absorbing carbon and releasing oxygen – which would be good for the environment.

Tests are being carried out inside and outside the university’s laboratory – which houses the city’s largest bank of local algae species – to find out which are the most useful for oil extraction, how to grow the organisms in various environments and how to harvest them cost-effectively.

Ho said Hong Kong, with its subtropical climate and seaside location, was an ideal place to grow algae. The team has collaborated with a top engineer from the United States to set up an algae farm in Daya Bay. A mainland-based fish farmer had also agreed to give over large sections of his farm to carry out water-purification tests using algae, Ho said.

A spokesman for the Drainage Services Department said they had preliminarily given Ho’s team the green light to carry out the pilot scheme at the Shek Wu Hui sewage treatment plant.

Read More

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2014 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.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Algae.Tec Ltd has received its first purchase order from Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited (RIIHL), in connection with the arrangements announced on Ja...
Students from three Arizona universities will demonstrate their algae research projects at an Innovation Showcase May 1, in Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Fitness C...
“Proterro has reached its Q1 sugar-production pilot milestones,” CEO Kef Kasdin reported at the recent Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference, in Washington, D.C. “In fo...
Algenist®, Solazyme’s anti-aging skincare brand featuring microalgae, has announced its launch in Nordstrom locations throughout the United States. The launch into Nordst...
Although the use of whole microalgae in animal diets has long been studied, the 
de-fatted biomass of microalgal species, derived from biofuel production research, has on...
A University of New South Wales (UNSW)-led team of researchers has discovered how algae that survive in very low levels of light are able to switch on and off a weird qua...
Gilbert, AZ-based Heliae has announced a partnership with Sincere Corporation, a Japanese waste management and recycling company, to form a joint venture and develop a co...
Starting in the early 70s, agencies in the former USSR invested more than 20,000 person-years of research and development to produce Bio-Algae Concentrates (BAC) that hel...
A recent discovery in the multicellular green alga, Volvox carteri,has revealed the origin of male and female sexes, showing how they evolved from a more primitive mating...
Channelnewsasia.com reports on three young Spaniards who harvest seaweed, a culinary delicacy, as a way for them to stay out of Spain’s troubled financial waters. 35-year...
Bookending the upcoming Algae Biomass Summit, Sept. 29-Oct.2 in San Diego, will be industry tours to give attendees a first-hand look at the latest progress in technical ...
Using a combination of satellite imagery and laboratory experiments, researchers have evidence showing that viruses infecting those algae are driving the life-and-death d...
Oregon State University researchers are combining diatoms, a type of single-celled photosynthetic algae, with nanoparticles to create a sensor capable of detecting minisc...
Chase Ezell writes in Earth911.com about the irony of Algenol’s biggest friction source on the way to marketing their carbon reducing algal-based ethanol being — the EPA ...
Portuguese cement facility, Secil, and microalgae biotechnology company, A4F, also based in Portugal, have formed AlgaFarm, a joint venture to develop the use of cement f...
Researchers at the Paul Scherer Institute (PSI) in Wädenswil, Switzerland, have succeeded in producing energy-rich gas from microalgae, and in doing so have demonstrated ...
James “Jamie” Levine took over the reigns at Sapphire Energy in July of this year as former President and CEO Cynthia “CJ” Warner stepped down, retaining her role as chai...
Arizona is taking advantage of its open land and ample sunshine to assume a leadership position in the algae biofuel field. The state is home to two national algae testbe...