Increasing global demand for food and fuel is straining the resources of our planet. Energy intense methods of living and using limited resources are resulting in global weather disruptions and concentrated waste. For years the rapid growth rate, effective energy concentration, and waste remediation abilities of algae have been touted as a potential fix for our global problems.
Almost 40 years of effort to develop algal potential has failed to produce a viable solution to global problems. Using the buoyant lift (patent pending) photobioreactor and developing new concentrating techniques the AlgaeTown team at Goshen College hopes to change that.
AlgaeTown is an ongoing project that started four years ago with a partnership between Dr. Stan Grove and the CEO of Formco Inc. Dave Slagel. Today, with the help of students at Goshen College and employees at Formco Inc. AlgaeTown has made significant strides in efficiently growing and harvesting microalgal biomass. Efficient production of microalgae biomass has high potential to help sustainably provide fuel, and food for the coming decades.
The goal of this joint effort has been continuous long-term algae cell growth combined with frequent efficient harvest. Recent research has yielded a method to efficiently extract concentrated algal biomass by hand without electrical or chemical input. This discovery could alleviate one of the major hurdles to profitable commercial algae production.
The project is operated by college students with the help of Professor Grove and Dave Slagel using his algae photobioreactor. Daily work involves tending to maintenance, monitoring algae feed medium, and tank sample collection. The daily work is often interspersed with continued collection of local algae strains, understanding culture requirements, continuous bioreactor quality improvements, enhanced tank design, and planning tank design variants.
We have discovered potential solutions to many existing industry problems. We can demonstrate an efficient harvest method resulting in usable biomass that is 30 times more concentrated than the algae circulating in the tank. This and other developing discoveries can alter the current biomass landscape. We anticipate reports to local and regional scientific groups through digital media. Research reports written from information gained will also be contributed to scientific journals. Four years of effort has strengthened our belief that microalgae will play a fundamental role in a sustainable world. We are proudly working toward that goal.