"Initial test results saw a dramatic drop in contaminant load while the culture still maintained target cell integrity,” said Dr Matt. Julius of the Department of Biological Sciences at St Cloud State University in Minnesota, who performed the tests. “This is one technology that will change the industry once it is fully validated.”
The Algae Screen prototype required less than 0.1 watt-hour of electricity per gallon of treated water. A model offering a 60 litre per minute capacity can treat a 40,000 litre pond or bioreactor for less than 10 cents per day, pumping extra.
Microbiological control is one of the major barriers to commercial-scale algae production today. Bacteria, rotifers and ciliates can easily take hold of a culture and induce the “crash” of a commercial algae production system. This is especially true of algae used in high-end commercial products, such as Hematococcus pluvialis. Other species are even more at risk of bacterial and predator contamination, for instance, Botryococcus braunii.
“B braunii has tremendous potential in fuels and nutrition due to its very high oil content,” said Dr. Thomas Ulrich, an OriginOil advisor. “But that same fattiness makes it a prime target for predators, preventing its use in large-scale open ponds.
“If these promising research numbers continue to hold true, Algae Screen could actually make industrial production of high-oil algae possible, which in turn could make competitive ‘green’ fuel a reality,” he added. “Cheap, clean fuel could be a real game-changer.”