Florida Polytechnic University students study how algae could produce biofuel

[USA] Can the algae growing within Polk County’s lakes be used to fuel our gas tanks in the near future?

Students at Florida Polytechnic University (FPU) have been researching this question for the past several months, and the answer they found proves affirmative.

Their research shows that algae known as endemic diatoms prove viable as a renewable energy source along with other technological applications.

These diatoms, which grow within local lakes, are microscopic organisms with glass shell bodies, the weight of which cause them to settle within the clay bottoms of the water.

Dr. Melba Horton, FPU Professor of Biology, had been studying these diatoms and their potential applications, especially within agriculture.

Not only would further research be utilized to address the photo gypsum within the clay of most local lakes, but the collected diatoms could be used as a potential biofuel, she explained.

“We are in a university that is supposed to be problem solving, so if we want to solve problems, we have to address the problem that is right in our backyard,” she said.

Following their initial project to study the diatoms and their potential technological applications, their sponsor, Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute, requested researching ways to collect and harvest these diatoms.

The university had since partnered with Polk County Parks and Recreation, which provided water samples from more than 50 lakes.


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