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InnoVenton and The Downstream Chemicals Technology Station

POTENTIAL POST-GRADUATE STUDIES IN MICROALGAE TECHNOLOGIES

Cultivation Theme

  • Design of an optimised heterotrophic microalgae cultivation system – mixed or axenic cultures
    • Determine optimal process conditions (nutrients, pH, operating conditions)
    • Demonstration on pilot scale
    • Optimisation of the system to maximise algae biomass output

 

  • Investigation and demonstration of a microalgae culture medium maintenance regime
    • Methods to maintain the medium for large-scale cultivation of mixed microalgae colony
      • Removal of undesirable levels of salts
      • Removal of organic impurities that build up
      • Control of bacteria and other microorganisms
    • Establish and test the recommended solutions on pilot scale

 

  • Investigation of the performance of a novel mixed microalgae cultivation system (open raceways with vertical photobioreactors) with various microalgae species (a number of different studies available)
    • Determine optimal process conditions (nutrients, pH, operating conditions)
    • Demonstration on pilot scale
    • Optimisation of the system to maximise algae biomass output

 

Renewable Energy from Microalgae

 

  • Gasification behaviour of coal-microalgae mixtures
    • Pilot scale studies of the syngas yields, gas composition and quality from various blends of microalgae and coal
    • Gasifier performance tests on coal-microalgae composites versus coal

 

  • Cleaning of syngas from coal-algae gasification for Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
    • Investigate and demonstrate cost-effective methods of syngas cleaning from coal-algae gasification to a quality suitable for FT synthesis

 

  • Purification of bio-oil from coal-algae pyrolysis for transport fuels
    • Investigate various petroleum refining and other upgrading processes that may be applicable to the purification of a bio-crude oil obtained from the fast pyrolysis of coal-algae mixtures for transport fuel purposes

 

  • Extraction of high-value compounds from coal-algae pyrolysis oil
    • Determine cost-effective methods of extracting various valuable chemicals from pyrolysis oil obtained from fast pyrolysis of coal-algae mixtures
    • Target compounds are mainly oxygenates, e.g. carboxylic acids, aldehydes, ketones

 

Biomass Processing

  • Extraction of pigments, e.g. chlorophyll, astaxanthin or phycobiliproteins, from microalgae biomass
    • Determination and small-scale demonstration of extraction methods for target pigment

 

  • Optimisation and demonstration of a process to ferment ethanol from microalgae biomass residue after protein extraction
    • The algae biomass after protein extraction is rich in carbohydrates, with some lipids and remaining protein, which can be fermented with yeast to ethanol as a biofuel
    • Develop a process to maximise alcohol yield and demonstrate it on small scale
    • Techno-economic assessment of process vs. conventional ethanol fermentation

 

  • Optimisation and demonstration of anaerobic digestion using the microalgae biomass residue after ethanol fermentation
    • The algae biomass after protein extraction and fermentation can be used to derive biogas by anaerobic digestion
    • Develop a process to maximise methane/biogas yields, also considering various co-substrates and demonstrate it on small scale
    • Techno-economic assessment of process

 

General

There are various other research opportunities related to microalgae technologies spanning disciplines such as chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemistry and microbiology.  We would be happy to discuss these with prospective students.

Contact information
Mr Brian Tait
Strategy & Operations Executive
Tel: 0829209382
brian.tait@mandela.ac.za