[India, UK] The Department of Microbiology of Bharathidasan University has set up a permanent Microalgal Mass Cultivation Centre for mass production of cyanobacterial and microalgal biomass that could be converted into bio-fuel.
The centre has been set up at a cost of Rs.1.43 crore sanctioned by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under an Indo-UK collaborative research project being undertaken by N.Thajuddin, Head, Department of Microbiology, Bharathidasan University.
The Indo-UK project taken up in collaboration with Dr. Carole Llewellyn, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, United Kingdom, is aimed at utilisation of wastewater for microalgal biomass production and conversion of the biomass into bio-energy.
V.M. Muthukumar, Vice-Chancellor, inaugurated the centre on Thursday in the presence of G. Subramanian, Founder- Director, National Facility for Marine Cyanobacteria and former Head, Department of Microbiology, Bharathidasan University, and V.Sivasubramanian, Director-Tech, Phycospectrum Environmental Research Centre (PERC), Chennai.
Explaining the objectives of the centre, Mr.Thajuddin said that production of bio-fuel from microalgae could appear expensive as the technology has not yet been perfected. But cost reduction together with waste water treatment is feasible using algae and cyanobacteria, which takes the name from its colour (cyan). In wastewater, several species of algae can be found with a complement of inherent bacteria. These associated bacteria help produce higher yields of the raw materials for biofuel.
The centre has two raceway ponds for microalgal biomass production which would then be converted into biodiesel, bio-ethanol or bio-butanol. The raceway ponds will also be used to optimise growth conditions for sustained large-scale microalgal production and development of economic cultivation technology.
The collaboration will benefit both the partnering countries in gaining more knowledge of the bacterial and microalgal symbiotic association and increase efficient utilisation of this towards cost effective bio-fuel production, a varsity press release said.
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