Fuelled by algae

  • May 29, 2012
Fuelled by algae

Victoria Adesanya publishes research which could help mass produce algae as a fuel source.

Research which could bring forward the prospect of commercial-scale growing of algae as an alternative to petroleum products has been published in the Journal of Rheology.

Global concerns about rapidly depleting oil reserves, fluctuations in oil prices, the potential for environmental deterioration and global warming as a result of the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and national energy security have led to a growing interest in renewable and sustainable sources of energy, including biofuels derived from microalgae.

However, production of microalgal biofuels on a commercial scale requires large quantities of algal biomass, but relatively little research has been done into how to produce this.

Photobioreactors are considered the best cultivation systems for producing large quantities of microalgal biomass, but key issues which would improve their design and effectiveness are often overlooked. Researchers, including Gates Cambridge scholar Victoria Adesanya, have been looking at issues relating to the design of photobioreactors, specifically the flow of matter [rheology].

In the article, the researchers describe how they have characterised algae suspensions according to their rheological properties, with increasing cell concentration. Their findings on the impact of cell concentration on viscosity could be used in the design of bioreactors and most importantly the design of downstream processing units, such as harvesting and dewatering systems, where the effect of cell concentration on the rheological properties is an important factor in improving the production of microalgal biofuels.

Victoria [2009] is doing a PhD in Engineering at the University of Cambridge.

Photo: PANPOTE and www.freedigitalphotos.com

Latest News

Lifetime honour for former Provost

Professor Barry Everitt, former Provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, has been elected a lifetime Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals. AAAS has elected more than 500 scientists, engineers and innovators from around the world and […]

‘Tackle climate change misinformation through computational social science’

Future leaders and researchers need to be urgently trained to tackle climate change misinformation through an interdisciplinary approach that foregrounds computational social science and extends beyond laboratories and university campuses to shape the science-policy interface and rebuild public trust in climate research, according to leading academics. Writing in Nature Human Behaviour, the academics, including Dr Ramit […]

An existential psychological thriller for aesthetes

Christy Edwall’s first novel, History Keeps Me Awake at Night, out in early February, has been described as “an existential psychological thriller for aesthetes and lovers of cultural London and the world… A story cleverly told of a young woman involved in contemporary forms of global voyeurism”. It tells the story of Margit, a London […]

A detective of ancient climate change

Stijn De Schepper is an ancient detective. His job is to investigate past climate change through working his way down the ocean bed, starting with today’s sediment and moving back through thousands of years of Earth’s history.  He maps ancient marine sediments to find out if, why and how the environment changed in the past. […]