11:00 session at Clearwater conference on microalgae feedstocks

The 11:00 session on Tuesday (2010-4-20) was about the development of microalgae as a biomass for biofuels. Micro aquatic crops such as duckweed, macroalgae, and microalgae are all currently being researched; this group of researchers, A. Darzins, L. Elliot, L. Laurens, E.J. Wolfrum, and M. Posewitz, is focused on microalgae. They mention the 30 year government study that researched algae based biofuels. This is the same government study that Ian Woertz talks about in his research article on algae based biofuels grown on wastewater streams. The government study ended in 1996. However, the program was essentially revived by the NREL in 2006. This study is continuing the research of that 30 year study. This new projects goal was to isolate and characterize microalgal strains utilizing high throughput techniques. They have research locations in Colorado, New Mexico, and several other locations elsewhere. Freshwater, brackish water, and saline/brine waters were brought back to the lab and they put one alga cell and 1 droplet into 96 well plate and allowed them to propagate themselves. High speed FACS sorting was utilized. They did clonal isolation and then used image positive brightfield microscopy. The green algae were found to be the most prominent, but many were fast growing. They currently think that the water vacuole in diatoms is lipids, but this remains a hypothesis for the time being. They are now working on a “bioprospecting project” using FACS, or florescence activated cell sorting. They are also studying high throughput methods for lipid extraction and identificaltion.

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