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 A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>