The ePBR system is the brainchild of David Kramer, Hannah Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MSU. (Photo: G.L. Kohuth)
A new development in algae-based biofuel
Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
A team of researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) have devised a new technological device intended to further develop algae-based biofuels.
This device -- the environmental photobioreactor – has become the world’s first standard algae growing platform, which simulates dynamic natural environments.
The researchers, led by David Kramer, Hannah Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MSU, pointed out that this invention helps identify, cultivate and test algal strains that have the potential to make the leap from lab to pond, proliferate in real-world, real-pond settings and produce the most oil.
Ben Lucker, an MSU research associate, explained that many scientists around the globe are looking for strains of algae that could become a sustainable source of alternative energy and that a vexing problem they face is that algal strains that perform well in labs often get stomped when it’s time to scale-up the experiment.
The researchers stressed that by allowing scientists to duplicate natural settings in a lab, these devices eliminate many variables before scaling up. The bioreactors are about the size of coffee makers and can induce changes in light, temperature, carbon dioxide,
oxygen, evaporation, nutrient availability, among others.
The environmental photobioreactor system also can duplicate and confirm results from experiments conducted anywhere in the world. It replaces home-built growing platforms made from flasks, tubing, aluminum foil and grow lights and gives researchers a tool that can consistently replicate conditions and reproduce results.
Kramer’s work is funded in part by the US Department of Energy and MSU AgBioResearch.