Before microalgae can be produced at a large scale for commercial production, it has to overcome some big challenges. Learn about promising new methods and research advances for microalgae harvesting.
Recent Advances in the Intensification of Algal Harvesting Processes in Microalgae/Cyanobacteria Biomass Biorefineries
Presented by Dries Vandamme, University of Leuven in Belgium (KU Leuven)
The large-scale production of microalgae for commodity biomass production is still facing several major challenges that currently hamper the commercial development of novel biorefinery concepts in the Algae/Water-Food-Energy-Environmental Nexus. Harvesting microalgae requires the separation of a low amount of biomass consisting of small individual cells from a large volume of culture medium. This separation process needs to be cost-effective, reliable with minimal process interference both up- and downstream.
Flocculation followed by sedimentation or flotation is seen as promising harvesting methods for microalgae biomass. The advantages and challenges of flocculation, such as interference of algal organic matter, will be discussed for several methods including metal coagulants, tannin biopolymers, cationic starch, cellulose nanocrystals, electrocoagulation and alkaline flocculation. Recent research advances and novel approaches such as coagulant design to allow recycling and process intensification by combination of harvesting and cell lysis and/or metabolite production will be overviewed and discussed in the framework of improving the techno-economics and environmental feasibility of algae and cyanobacteria production for fuels, feeds, bio-active chemicals and/or bioremediation of air and water.
About the speaker
Dries Vandamme is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Leuven in Belgium (KU Leuven) funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) since 2013. He is a currently a visiting scientist in the BioMASS lab of Rita K. Henderson at The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, to collaborate on the topic of separation of marine microalgae using sedimentation and flotation by studying floc properties and the characterization of algal organic matter.
He obtained his doctorate in 2013 at KU Leuven based on this research on harvesting of microalgae biomass by flocculation for biofuels. The nearly 30 A1 publications, two book chapters, 30+ conference abstracts and 600+ citations reflect the impact of his research being an early stage researcher. As one of the leaders in the international research field of algae biotechnology, Dries has been invited as a speaker at several international meetings and he has attracted students and collaborated with researchers from across all continents (USA, Greece, Brazil, Nepal, Australia, etc.).