Starting around mid-September, Cardinale's lab will begin growing various combinations of eight of the 55 algae species inside 2.4-gallon plastic aquariums called continuous-flow chemostats. The amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, light and carbon dioxide in each tank, as well as the water temperature, will be tightly controlled.
The newly installed chemostats are meant to mimic lakes, and they complement 150 mini-streams, called flumes, installed in the Dana basement two years ago.
Taken together, the 330 chemostats and flumes constitute a state-of-the-art laboratory that is unmatched by any facility in the world, Cardinale said.
"No lab like this exists anywhere else. There's nothing else that even comes close to it," he said.
Using the chemostats, researchers will make multiple measurements of the various algae combinations to assess their efficiency and yield. Stability of the various combinations will be tested by measuring their response to changes in water temperature and the introduction of undesirable algae species.
The highest-scoring algae combinations from the first phase of the project will move on to the next round, the 260-gallon cattle tanks at the E.S. George Reserve, a set-up that mimics real-world, open-pond algal-growth systems known as photosynthetic biorefineries.
U-M chemical engineer Savage's lab will use a technique called hydrothermal liquefaction to measure the quantity and quality of the combustible oils, or biocrude, produced by the various algae combinationsfrom both the laboratory and field experiments. His team also will compare the ability of single and multispecies systems to reuse and recycle wastes for additional growth.
Lin is a U-M chemical engineer who employs microfluidics and high-throu
|Contact: Jim Erickson|
University of Michigan