12-12: Microalgae harvest through oleaginous fungal species

Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Napoleon Ballroom C-D, 3rd fl (Sheraton New Orleans)
Jianguo Zhang, Sarman O. Gultom and Bo Hu, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN
Harvesting oleaginous microalgae cells from pond water is technically challenging and contributes 20-30% cost of microalgae-to-biofuels production. Current harvest technologies include chemical and mechanical methods, only economically feasible for production of high-value products due to high costs. We recently discovered that microalgae cells can be attracted by certain filamentous fungal cells and they can aggregate together to form cell pellets during the co-cultivation. Fungal co-pelletization with microalgae can be developed as a promising microalgae harvest method, potentially with superior features such as low cost, easy applications to both fresh and marine microalgae species, and low environmental impacts on recycling pond waters. In this study, we are co-culturing  an oleaginous fungal species together with microalgae in order to accumulate microbial lipids for biofuel production. Oleaginous fungi can facilitate the microalgae harvest via co-pelletization, and the fungal cells can accumulate oil as well. The pellets can be harvested easily with sieves, without any high cost equipment and chemicals. The oil yield is analyzed at different co-pelletization conditions to confirm the high oil yield and microalgae harvest ratio.
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