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SCSU Teams with Algaedyne to Study Algae

August 22, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Matt Julius, professor of biology, talks about an LED light used to grow algae in a photo-bioreactor in Wick Science Building.

Matt Julius, professor of biology, talks about an LED light used to grow algae in a photo-bioreactor in Wick Science Building.

Aresearch project between Minnesota’s St. Cloud State University and southeastern Minnesota-based Algaedyne is making algae cultivation a key part of the university’s goal to create partnerships with Minnesota companies and provide real-life experiences for its students and staff.

The partnership between the university and the private company started more than two years ago when Algaedyne founder and Chief Executive Officer Tom Byrne, a 1977 St. Cloud State graduate, called St. Cloud State biology professor Matt Julius and asked if the school could help him with some research on algae.

A commercial-sized photo-bioreactor in Wick Science Building.

A commercial-sized photo-bioreactor in Wick Science Building.

Julius initially said no. Algae wasn’t something they did at St. Cloud State. “I was a classic scientist. I was way too comfortable in my research areas,” Julius said about why he originally turned down the opportunity. He eventually agreed to help Algaedyne, leading to the creation of the lab.

The university showed off the Photoplankton Laboratory this week as part of a national effort to promote algae. Dominating the basement room are four large plastic tanks: one that holds 500 gallons – which Algaedyne’s chief technical officer, Toby Kinkaid designed – two that hold 50 gallons each and one that holds 30 gallons. Inside each is a long light bulb to grow the algae. Some smaller, glass tanks under flourescent lights are lined up against a wall.

For St. Cloud State, this partnership fits right into the university’s plans to work to solve state and regional issues. When the Integrated Science Engineering Laboratory Facility opens in 2013, it will provide additional space to grow that mission.

“From our perspective, the relationship is exactly the direction we would like to move,” said Dan Gregory, associate provost for research at St. Cloud. “Algaedyne is a shining example of how this can work well. We are really focused on the experience for the students and faculty.”

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