Large-scale, commercialized microalgae cultivation and harvesting processes which are used to produce algae-based biofuels are resource intensive.
- Microalgae are grown in highly-diluted solutions;
- High volumes of water are required;
- Processes to dewater algae during harvest consume a lot of energy.
Centrifugation, chemical coagulation, and electrocoagulation flocculation (ECF) using batch reactors are a few examples of existing harvest processes. These methods require high energy input, large amounts of chemicals, and/or additional infrastructure such as settling tanks.
Right: From the Fluid Imaging Technologies lab- Nannochloropsis at 20x
A study from Seattle University and Utah State University (Shuman et al., 2016) examined the effects of pre-concentrating Nannochloropsis sp. using a continuous flow method of ECF, as opposed to a batch reactor ECF. Water was pre-treated with direct current and then applied to algae at pond concentrations at various flow rates. The ECF process and its effects on cell viability were observed during the study using a FlowCam.
Interested? Learn more about FlowCam applications for algae viability analysis.
Shuman, T.R., Mason, G., Reeve, D., Schacht, A., Goodrich, A., Napan, K., Quinn, J. (2016) Low-energy input continuous flow rapid pre-concentration of microalgae through elector-coagulation-flocculation. Chemical Engineering Journal, 297, 97-105.