Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Algae's viability as a biofuel advanced

Date:
February 26, 2014
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Lab success doesn't always translate to real-world success. Scientists have now, however, invented a new technology that increases the odds of helping algae-based biofuels cross that gap and come closer to reality.

ePBR is a pond in a jar that helps identify, cultivate and test algal strains that have the potential to make the leap from lab to pond, proliferate in real-world, real-pond settings and produce the most oil.
Credit: G.L. Kohuth

Lab success doesn't always translate to real-world success. A team of Michigan State University scientists, however, has invented a new technology that increases the odds of helping algae-based biofuels cross that gap and come closer to reality.

Related Articles


The current issue of Algal Research showcases the team's invention -- the environmental photobioreactor. The ePBR system is the world's first standard algae growing platform, one that simulates dynamic natural environments.

Simply put, ePBR is a pond in a jar that helps identify, cultivate and test algal strains that have the potential to make the leap from lab to pond, proliferate in real-world, real-pond settings and produce the most oil.

Many scientists around the globe are looking for strains of algae that could become a sustainable source of alternative energy. A vexing problem they face, however, is that algal strains that perform well in labs often get stomped when it's time to scale-up the experiment, said Ben Lucker, MSU research associate.

"It's like training elementary kids to be really good pingpong players," he said. "But then they take the kids and throw them into a football game against professional players; in those settings, they simply can't compete at all."

The ePBRs, which subsequently help make algae biofuel research more desirable to investors, were the brainchild of David Kramer, Hannah Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MSU.

Kramer's lab is like no other. Even though it's housed among other plant biologists, it could be mistaken for an electronics factory. The benches are covered with wires, soldering irons and printed circuit boards. There are even few early prototypes that provide a history of ePBR's progress.

The latest models glow green and whir quietly as they test various strains. By allowing scientists to duplicate natural settings in a lab, ePBRs eliminate many variables before scaling up. The bioreactors are about the size of coffee makers and can induce changes in light, temperature, carbon dioxide, oxygen, evaporation, nutrient availability and more.

The ePBR system also can duplicate and confirm results from experiments conducted anywhere in the world. It replaces home-built growing platforms made from flasks, tubing, aluminum foil and grow lights and gives researchers a tool that can consistently replicate conditions and reproduce results, Lucker said.

The potential of ePBRs has already inspired the launch of a company, Phenometrics, an MSU spinoff headquartered in Lansing. The company is merely two years old, but steady orders for the bioreactors have the company already running in the black.

Additional MSU scientists who were part of this study include Christopher Hall and Robert Zegarac.

Kramer's work is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy and MSU AgBioResearch.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ben F. Lucker, Christopher C. Hall, Robert Zegarac, David M. Kramer. The environmental photobioreactor (ePBR): An algal culturing platform for simulating dynamic natural environments. Algal Research, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.algal.2013.12.007

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Algae's viability as a biofuel advanced." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226101825.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2014, February 26). Algae's viability as a biofuel advanced. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226101825.htm
Michigan State University. "Algae's viability as a biofuel advanced." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226101825.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins