Cultivation and Harvesting of Microalgae using Thermoreversible Sol-Gel Transition

Microalgae are promising sources of renewable biomass for the production of biofuels and valuable chemicals. However, energy-efficient cultivation and harvesting methods are needed to improve its economic viability.

Syracuse University researchers led by Bendy Estime developed a Tris-Acetate-Phosphate-Pluronic (TAPP) medium to efficiently culture and harvest microalgae without affecting the productivity of microalgae. TAPP was designed to undergo a thermoreversible sol-gel transition.

After seeding microalgae in the TAPP medium in a solution phase at 15°C, the temperature is increased by 7°C to induce gelation. Within the gel, microalgae grew in large clusters instead of isolated cells.

The settling velocity of the clusters was approximately ten times larger than that of individual cells cultured in typical solution media. These clusters can easily be harvested by decreasing the temperature to bring the medium to a solution phase.


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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