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View Diary: Fields Of Algae: Turning The Red Tide (32 comments)

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  •  Just curious (1+ / 0-)
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    They double in mass in 24 hours if they have enough of it.
    do you mean that any individual bug gets twice as fat, Rush Limbaugh style, or the aggregate biomass of the entire species doubles?
    •  Each colony grows that fast in ideal conditions. (0+ / 0-)

      Like Rush Limbaugh!

      Since the nutrients are so rich in many streams, some of the researchers have thought harvesting every 24 hours would be advisable.  It would require a lot of labor, or a highly-automated harvesting system to do, though.

      This generation of researchers is thinkking about how to maximize production by increasing water throughput, harvesting as soon as the colony finishes its faster growth phase, etc.  They want to see how much biomass per acre is possible.

      •  I guess what I'm asking is a bit more (1+ / 0-)
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        technical in nature

        One option is that that (because of the rich nutrient stream) each individual cell doubles in this (or any defined) amount of time.  In a way this is not an ideal situation for biofuels production because the cell spends considerable effort and energy replicating its DNA, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria (etc etc) during cell division.

        A better option would be that any particular cell did not actually divide, but would instead focus all of its metabolic efforts on producing and storing lipids, which could be used for biofuels (for example, or another example would be recombinant proteins used therapeutically - the main point being that you don't want the cells to be dividing).

        Basically, either of the scenarios just outlined could result in a doubling of biomass, but one would be much better from the production of useful products POV.

        •  Quite true. (1+ / 0-)
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          Roadbed Guy

          The main interest in ATS so far has been in areas with nutrient credits or funding to capture carbon, so the emphasis has been on growth for growth's sake to scrub as much nitrate, phosphorus and carbon as possible from the water and air.  

          Growing algae for downstream processes will require a shift in thinking because the optimum harvesting cycle will need to allow the algae to mature and focus on lipids or other materials.

          It may be difficult to maintain a target species in an ATS because it is exposed to wild varieties all the time.  A bioreactor with sealed flow may be better for that application, like many algae production systems are being developed for.   It would be interesting to seed an ATS with specific varieties and see how they fare with raw river water flowing over them and other species attempting to take root.

          There are a lot of variables to how to harvest these plants, and the target market will be an important factor in properly managing each algal field.  I will definitely throw your ideas into the mix with the researchers and see what they think could be done to optimize for biofuels.

          One of the reasons I would like to frame the technology for farmers is that someone will need to tend these fields and care for them, and farmers are experts at that.  Each crop will need to be planned out and patiently executed through the season.  Once a farmer decides what markets they are targeting, they will experiment and innovate ways to get there.

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