Algae: Economical Biofuel
Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists are using artificial intelligence to set a new world record for producing algae as a reliable, economic source for biofuel that can be used as an alternative fuel source for jet aircraft and other transportation needs.
Joshua Yuan, Ph.D., AgriLife Research scientist, professor and chair of Synthetic Biology and Renewable Products in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, is leading the research project.
Algae biofuel is regarded as one of the ultimate solutions for renewable energy, but its commercialization is hindered by growth limitations caused by mutual shading and high harvest costs.
“We overcome these challenges by advancing machine learning to inform the design of a semi-continuous algal cultivation [SAC] to sustain optimal cell growth and minimize mutual shading,” Yuan said.
He is using an aggregation-based sedimentation strategy designed to achieve low-cost biomass harvesting and economical SAC.
The aggregation-based sedimentation is achieved by engineering a fast-growing blue-green algae strain, Synechococcus elongatus UTEX2973, to produce limonene, which increases cyanobacterial cell surface hydrophobicity and enables efficient cell aggregation and sedimentation.