1983-1986. Identification and isolation of heterocyst specific gene sequences from filamentous blue-green algae. Transcriptomics of cell differentiation and nitrogen fixation.
1986-1989. Blue-Green Biotech - artificially illuminated photobioreactor (PBR) system powered by biogas generated electricity from the anaerobic digestion of chicken manure. Filtered digestate supplied the nutrients for Spirulina cultivation in the PBR.
In 1993 we designed and deployed the UK’s first algae based wastewater treatment process which employed an auto-flocculating microbial consortia, primarily comprising Chlorella, Scenedesmus and bacteria, to effect nutrient removal as tertiary treatment. The 5000 litre helically tubular Biocoil photobioreactor incorporated an automatic tube cleaning system using ‘pigs’. Located at Severn Trent PLC's Stoke Bardolph STW in Nottingham, the system effectively removed N & P with an HRT of 1 day, however, the running costs at that time were unjustifiable.
1993 Working with the late Dr Paul Jenkins from the University of the West of England, we fueled a diesel engine using powdered algae. This work was featured on the BBC's Tomorrow's World at the time. (video above)
1994-1995. Effluents from food and agri operations are too strong (BOD>10,000mg/l) to be treated using algae alone. In this work we used the Purple Photorophic bacteria (PSB) Rhodopseudomonas sp and Rhodobacter sp. as a pretreatment stage to consume and reduce the high organic load in the effluent, down to levels which then allowed further polishing and nutrient removal by algae. The excess PSB biomass makes an ideal fish feed.
1994-1996. The disposal of chicken manure is a global problem. In this project we coupled anaerobic digestion (thermophilic) to our PSB/algae process to convert the manure into renewable energy, fish feed and soil conditioner/fertiliser.
1994-1995 Biotechna Ltd/Escola Superior de Biotecnologia (ESB), Lisboa. Two stage Biocoil PBR system for the production of Beta Carotene from Dunalliella salina. The unit was constructed in the UK and transported to site near Sines in Portugal.
1995. Dorking laboratories. Spirulina production in an airlift driven Biocoil.
1997-2000. The SolHaus® is an algae biofilm based process that recycles and purifies the warm water required for Tilapia growth. This results in lower running costs when compared with conventional aquaculture recycle systems. SolHaus® fish production advantages over other commercial fish production systems include:
Has few geographic limitations on location of production
Reduced feed inventory due to algal supplementation of feed
Allows for better quality control of product than other commercial production systems or wild capture fisheries
Allows for better control of diseases and contaminants
Provides much better control of predators than pond systems
Eliminates waste management problems through zero volume of waste water
Lower energy costs
Through control of the fish production environment, provides opportunity to time production to the market’s signals rather than the seasons of the year.
Zero oxygen costs
Integral carbon dioxide and ammonia removal
2006. Bubble column demonstration in the Houses of Parliament facilitated by Linda Gilroy MP and endorsed by David Miliband MP. These were real growing marine algae in the columns and by the end of the 7 day demonstration, the marine Synechococcus strain developed a gorgeous red colour.
2007-2008. Exhibition at The Science Museum attempts to tackle one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century – climate change. The exhibition ‘Can algae save the world?’ ran until April 30 2008 and focuses on the role of science in offering possible solutions to the problem by developing the specific technology of biofuels.
Visitors can view a ‘Mini Algae Farm’, a device to grow algae, as well as learn about the possibilities of using it as a green alternative to fossil fuels.
One strong, but surprising, contender is algae. These water plants, some species so small that they can only be viewed under a microscope, have the potential to be the best biofuel because less land is needed to harvest it.
Could algae save the world? It’s an exciting prospect but, like all technologies, not one without problems. But in our current environmental and social climate, with global warming the hot issue of the day, it is a hugely important question to explore.
Technology alone won’t save the world, but it can certainly help. Engaging society is an important goal and the thoughts and ideas of the public will be displayed at the gallery.
2007. Bubble columns fitted with UVA and UVB lighting in order to induce UV protection compound (mycosporine amino acids) biosynthesis in cyanobacteria.
2008. 5000 litre roof mounted photobioreactor designed to capture carbon from gas boiler emissions.
2008-2015. The Nottingham Microalgae Biorefinery featuring Greenskill’s 16,000 litre carbon capture photobioreactor coupled to a combined cycled gas power plant. Project partners: Alliance Boots, BASF, CRODA, Carlton Power and PML. [Technology Strategy Board -Low Carbon Energy Programme: (CCIF). Biorefinery carbon capture and conversion into industrial feedstocks as direct replacements for petrochemicals, and transformation system development in cyanobacteria CX. (£2.1m)].
2014. 300litre PBR installed at Cambridge University's Algae Innovation Centre.
More to come shortly...