GSR’s Bio-prospecting Endeavor: Algal Strain Selection

GSR has been selecting robust strains from indigenously isolated algal strains tested for lipid contents, biomass productivities and other valued byproducts. Most importantly high lipid producing microalgae is isolated from many different habitats and nutrition types. Algal screening is employed for obtaining best candidates showing: wastewater nutrient (N&P) removal potential, high growth rate, high oil content, large cell size, tolerance to contaminants, recovery of carbon from flue gases etc. Selected photoautotrophic, mixotrophic, and heterotrophic microalgal strains are cultivated in different types of artificial or waste media and grown in photobireactors and/or open systems for biomass production and subsequent oil extraction. Oleaginous algal strains produce different quality and quantities of biofuel!

Algal fuel production Integrated with Waste Treatment

Industries and dairy farms generating wastewater and other wastes containing nutrients for algae are our potential partners. They are required to meet standards for handling and recycling of wastewater nutrients per guidelines from the State and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The role of algae in successful treatment of wastewater has been well documented since early 1950s. The commonly used anaerobic biodigester systems for the treatment of wastewaters in use are effective mostly in treating the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) but not nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) removal. This wastewater coming out of biodigester needs to be further treated before it can be discharged into the water streams as per EPA water quality regulations. Our proprietary oleagenous algal strains are capable of digesting the wastewater to get the nutrients for growth and releasing the reusable water, besides capturing flue/CO2 gases.

Up scaling of selected strains & mass culturing

The wheel was invented long ago – we are implementing it with oleaginous algal strains: since early 1950s Oswald and his group at Berkley, CA studied the algae-bacterial relationship in detail & developed “Advanced Integrated Wastewater Ponds” systems recorded to remove over 90% of Nitrogen. U.S. Department of Energy’s (DoE) two decades of NREL Aquatic Species Program (ASP) demonstrated biofuel production from algae, but a cost-effective technology is yet to be found. In the final report, ASP-NREL recommended that a cost-effective approach would be to combine efforts of algae production for biodiesel with wastewater treatment and demonstration of such a facility is needed in future R&D. The future is here…

Nutrient composition of wastewaters supports algae growth symbiotically growing with other microbes, and studies have proven that algae fed on dairy manure can recover significant amount of nitrogen and phosphorous. And oleaginous algae can do the job. Our strains cultured in dairy manure wastewater can remove significantly higher amounts of ammonium nitrate nitrogen and total nitrogen compared to Chlorella cultures

Harvesting and Oil extraction

Algal cells are like incompressible balloons suspended in liquid media. We harvest algae and extract oil by cost effective methods, including mechanical and chemical.

Many methods of processing the algae biomass for the oil are available: cell disruption, pretreatment, centrifugal recovery transesterification, bacterial milking etc. Efficient conversion of algal biomass is an unsolved problem. Our success criterion is to extract oil with minimum intervention so that the byproducts could be utilized for other valued products (fertilizer, animal feed, chemicals for pharmaceuticals etc.), which is a systems approach. The (FAME) analysis for oil as triacyl glycerols (TAG) demonstrated GSR strains contain the carbon range required for biofuel production.

GSR’s Technology Process for Integration of Algae Biomass with waste treatment

How it works?

GSR selects photoautotrophic, mixotrophic, and heterotrophic microalgal strains for culturing and producing biofuel and other valued byproducts. The wastewater treatment system depends on symbiotic relation between the algal and bactrial communities. The algae produces the oxygen for bacterial community through photosynthesis and bacteria breaks down the organic material to supply the algae with the required carbon, nitrogen and other products of decomposition. This symbiotic relation is significant as the algae-bacterial combination in wastewater treatment is responsible for the removal of effluent components from wastewater via adsorption on living or dead biomass. The clean water is reusable, and oil rich algal biomass is available for oil extraction. Other by-products from leftover algae is recyclable material that can be used for producing organic fertilizer or as feedstock for biogas production.