University of Georgia, Biorefining & Carbon Cycling Program
The University of Georgia scientists, Dr. K.C. Das, Director, Biorefining and Carbon Cycling Program and Dr. Manjinder Singh, Lead Phycologist of Biological and Agricultural Engineering Program, are dedicated to research, development and demonstration of algae biomass production and conversion technologies through the development of an Integrated Biorefinery to process biomass feedstocks such as algae, wood and grasses into a suite of various products including transportation fuels and bioproducts.
One important goal of the algae biorefinery program is to reduce the cost of algae production by using treated municipal (or industrial) wastewater, animal and agricultural wastes as water and nutrient sources for algae cultivation. Pilot scale algae cultivation demonstrated that industrial and domestic wastewater can successfully be used for algal cultivation in open pond systems. The indigenous algal strains that were isolated from different wastewater sources in GA can be grown effectively in wastewaters and can utilize it as sole nutrient source for its growth requirements. However, control over algal diversity in such cultivation system is limited, and one has to follow the algae composition of the cultivation system so as to better understand growth requirements and determine downstream processing for harvested biomass. FlowCAM in auto image mode is being used in this study, and is a great tool to follow the algae biodiversity of outdoor growth ponds. Results from biodiversity studies by FlowCAM produced very interesting information regarding prevalence and dominance of various algae, cyanobacteria and algae grazers during different periods of the year. Use of 20X objective with 50µm flow cell was found to be perfect to image microalgae, while 100 and 300µm flow cells in combination with 10X objective lens produced excellent collages of rotifers and ciliates.