|Delivery of microorganisms to aqueous environmental systems is a common approach for enhancing bioremediation of aquifers (bioaugmentation) and for the control of plant pathogens, insects and weeds (microbial biological control). Our current research focuses on storage and delivery of microalgae. Producing biofuel from microalgae on a large scale will require high biomass productivity using systems such as high-rate raceway ponds (127 tons/ha year). The vast scale of proposed raceway ponds spanning 247 acres to 988 acres per farm suggests practices currently used in commercial agricultural systems will need to be adopted for cultivation of algae. Commercial crop production is facilitated by a well-established seed production, distribution and delivery system. Developing a seed technology for microalgae may improve the success of production in open raceways and other large-scale cultivation processes. To address this need, we developed a technology based on water-in-oil (W/O) emulsions to store and deliver microalgae. In W/O emulsions cells are contained in water droplets, sequestered in a continuous phase of oil, that are stabilized by solid particles and surfactants at the water-oil interface. Our research aims to develop processes for optimal formulation of emulsions containing algae to maximize cell viability during storage and rate of release upon delivery.
Fernández L, Higgins BT, Scher H, VanderGheynst JS. 2016. Spray application and release of microalgae from water-in-oil emulsions. Current Biotechnology(5):154-162.
Fernández L, Scher H, VanderGheynst JS. 2015. The role of silica nanoparticles on long-term room-temperature stabilization of water-in-oil emulsions containing microalgae. Letters in Applied Microbiology 61(6):568–572.
Fernández L, Scher H, Jeoh T, VanderGheynst J. 2015. Room-temperature storage of microalgae in water-in-oil emulsions: influence of solid particle type and concentration in the oil phase. Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering 38(12):2451-2460.