Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Using fungi to catch algae

19.02.2015

Fungal waste biomass from biotechnology applications could be used to harvest microalgae for fuels and chemicals production

Waste biomass from fungal fermentation processes could be used to bind to and harvest microalgae being used in other biotechnology applications. A*STAR researchers have successfully demonstrated this procedure with fungal mycelium — the main vegetative part of a fungus such as the tangled mass of underground fibers beneath sprouting mushrooms.


Mixing a fungal culture with microalgae culture followed by aerated mixing can precipitate the algae bound to the fungal mycelium. This allows extraction of useful microalgae/fungal biomass for direct use or further purification of algal products. © 2015 A*STAR Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences

Suitable fungal biomass might be obtained cheaply or perhaps even freely to offer a sustainable and environmentally sound method for harvesting microalgae. The potential uses of microalgae include burning their biomass as fuel or turning them into mini-factories for making biodiesel or specific chemicals including lipids, sugars or drugs.

"The lack of an economic and effective method for harvesting microalgae is one of the bottlenecks limiting their commercial use in biotechnology," explains Mahabubur Talukder of the A*STAR Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences.

Microalgae can be cultured in a broth and existing methods for harvesting them include centrifugation or a precipitation process called flocculation using chemical treatments. All current methods however suffer significant drawbacks, explains Talukder. For instance, centrifugation is too expensive to be used for low value uses of microalgae, such as biofuel. Similarly inadequate, chemical flocculation contaminates the harvested microalgae with toxic metal salts, causing difficulties in further processing or extraction of desired products.

The A*STAR team knew that less toxic natural materials such as starch could be used to precipitate and collect some freshwater microalgae, but this is not suitable for marine microalgae due to undesirable effects of the salty solutions.

What is needed is a non-toxic and preferably natural and widely available material that can bind to, immobilize and precipitate both freshwater and marine microalgae. This led the researchers to investigate fungal mycelium, which they found was not only effective but could also add value by contributing to the total biomass in the combined and harvested material.

The team screened several varieties of fungi with varying results, in some cases achieving a harvesting efficiency of 97 per cent after several hours of mechanical mixing with four times the mass of wet mycelium [1]. Detailed analysis indicated that the key to the binding and immobilizing effect is a simple ionic attraction between the differing electric charges on the surface of the microalgae and the fungal mycelium.

"The next step is to find a collaborator or industrial partner willing to invest in and further explore the invention and commercialize it," says Talukder, as his focus turns from the laboratory toward the challenges of scale-up and industrial production.

Reference

[1] Talukder, M. R., Das, P. & Wu, J. C. Immobilization of microalgae on exogenous fungal mycelium: A promising separation method to harvest both marine and freshwater microalgae. Biochemical Engineering Journal 91, 53–57 (2014).


Associated links
A*STAR article

A*STAR Research | ResearchSEA
Further information:
http://www.researchsea.com

Further reports about: A*STAR biomass freshwater freshwater microalgae fungi microalgae natural toxic

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>