Nav: Home

Left out to dry: A more efficient way to harvest algae biomass

July 08, 2019

Tsukuba, Japan - A team at the University of Tsukuba introduced a new procedure of harvesting energy and organic molecules from algae using nanoporous graphene and porous graphene foams. By developing a reusable system that can evaporate water at high rate without the need for centrifugation or squeezing. This research has a great potential for the application of producing cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient biofuels, vitamins, and chemicals.

In the fight against global climate change, algae biomass is a very exciting field of research, because they are photosynthetic microorganisms that convert light energy from the sun into energy-rich biomolecules. When algae are grown and harvested on an industrial scale, these molecules can be converted into a wide array of important compounds, including biofuel, medicines, omega-3 dietary supplements, and many other valuable bio-products. Algae are also able to absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, switching from traditional fossil fuels to biofuels holds the promise of slashing net greenhouse gas emissions. However, micro-algae cultures consist primarily of water at low solid content (0.05 - 1.0 wt%) and harvesting the organic material due to solid-liquid separation techniques usually requires multiple dehydration steps.

Now, scientists at the University of Tsukuba introduced a new method for removing water from algae biomass that does not damage the fragile compounds to be harvested. In contrast with previous methods which rely on mechanical centrifugation or squeezing, while this approach uses solar irradiation and reusable, nanostructured support materials. The fabrication of hierarchically-structured nanoporous graphene and porous graphene foams creates tiny channels for water to be pulled upwards from deep inside the sample.

This novel developed material protects the biomass from overheating while capturing more of the sun's energy to evaporate the water. "We needed a material that absorbs light, has a low specific heat and thermal conductivity, but is still hydrophilic and porous, with a large surface area," says first author Professor Yoshikazu Ito. "Fortunately, nitrogen-doped nanostructured graphene possesses all of these qualities."

"The more energy efficient we can make the dehydration process, the more we can preserve the environmental benefits of using biomass in the first place," says senior author Dr. Andreas Isdepsky.
-end-


University of Tsukuba

Related Biomass Articles:

Traditional biomass stoves shown to cause lung inflammation
Traditional stoves that burn biomass materials and are not properly ventilated, which are widely used in developing nations where cooking is done indoors, have been shown to significantly increase indoor levels of harmful PM2.5 (miniscule atmospheric particulates) and carbon monoxide (CO) and to stimulate biological processes that cause lung inflammation and may lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to new research published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
Biotech breakthrough turns waste biomass into high value chemicals
A move towards a more sustainable bio-based economy has been given a new boost by researchers who have been able to simplify a process to transform waste materials into high value chemicals.
How preprocessing methods affect the conversion efficiency of biomass energy production
Research on energy production from biomass usually focuses on the amount of energy generated.
Supercomputing improves biomass fuel conversion
Pretreating plant biomass with THF-water causes lignin globules on the cellulose surface to expand and break away from one another and the cellulose fibers.
Whole-tree harvesting could boost biomass production
Making the shift to renewable energy sources requires biomass, too.
Left out to dry: A more efficient way to harvest algae biomass
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba develop a new system for evaporating the water from algae biomass with reusable nanoporous graphene, which can lead to cheaper, more environmentally friendly biofuels and fine chemicals.
Symbiotic upcycling: Turning 'low value' compounds into biomass
Kentron, a bacterial symbiont of ciliates, turns cellular waste products into biomass.
New microorganism for algae biomass to produce alternative fuels
Professor Gyoo Yeol Jung and his research team utilized algae that grow three times faster than starch crops and succeeded in producing biofuel and biochemicals.
Light energy and biomass can be converted to diesel fuel and hydrogen
A research group led by Professor WANG Feng at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently developed a method to produce diesel fuel and hydrogen by exploiting light energy (solar energy or artificial light energy) and biomass-derived feedstocks.
Converting biomass by applying mechanical force
German nanoscientists have succeeded in demonstrating a new reaction mechanism to cleave cellulose efficiently.
More Biomass News and Biomass Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 2: Every Day is Ignaz Semmelweis Day
It began with a tweet: "EVERY DAY IS IGNAZ SEMMELWEIS DAY." Carl Zimmer – tweet author, acclaimed science writer and friend of the show – tells the story of a mysterious, deadly illness that struck 19th century Vienna, and the ill-fated hero who uncovered its cure ... and gave us our best weapon (so far) against the current global pandemic. This episode was reported and produced with help from Bethel Habte and Latif Nasser. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.