26 Aug 2015 EnAlgae partners plough ahead with Algal Innovation Centre
Colleagues from Cambridge are ploughing ahead with work on their new Algal Innovation Centre with construction on the project now well underway and an expected completion date sometime in October 2015.
The Algal Innovation Centre will address the requirement for scale-up and pilot facilities to enable translation of fundamental research and showcase technologies. It will connect the entire pipeline of algal research from strain selection and improvement, through harvesting and processing, to development of underpinning technology/engineering solutions.
This unique Centre will also meet a wider UK need; as a result of a national consultation, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has identified a need for an algal Centre of Excellence with test and scale-up facilities.
This plot has been identified within the Botanic Garden at Cambridge University, adjacent to the existing Plant Growth Facility, for a dedicated glass house for algal innovation experiments.
“There is increasing interest in the exploitation of microalgae as a sustainable feedstock for a variety of products, such as diesel, omega-3 oils, pigments, enzymes, and for these to replace those currently sourced from fossil oil and gas, crop plants and animals,” said Dr Matt Davey, who is overseeing the project. “Built in a freestanding aluminium cladding system on a concrete foundation the facility will have a gross floor area of 164m². To fit this in we’ve had to prepare the site, and at the moment, construction has reached its mid phase in that we are almost ready to assemble the glasshouse structure”.
“Once complete we expect the facility to come into full operational use by November 2015 and one of the first experiments that will be carried out here will be to assess how well algae will grow on wastewater nutrients at a much larger scale than we currently have set up, the algae can then be used for anaerobic digestion to produce electricity”
The estimated cost of the project is £492,834, and is to be funded by the Department of Plant Sciences and the School of the Biological Sciences. The funds available to the Department include an award of £188,600 from the European Union’s INTERREG EnAlgae project, which aims to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in North West Europe by developing algal biofuel technologies.