Biotechnology: developing high-yield algae
During the BioMara project, wild strains of microalgae characterised by high oil content and high stress resistance will be screened to identify those capable of sustained growth in outdoor conditions.
The Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP) at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) holds the largest algal culture collection in Europe, some 2700 strains, from which all suitable candidate strains will be screened.
Initially these will be grown on a small scale at SAMS in enclosed systems. Additional work will focus both on industrial sites and on artificial blooms with fixed conditions.
There are THREE KEY REQUIREMENTS for biodiesel production:
- sustainable production of high-oil-yielding microalgae strains: this is the critical requirement
- extraction of the oil from the algae
- conversion of microalgal oil into biodiesel
BioMara will investigate these key requirements.
Seaweed cultivation and harvest is now an established process in Scotland. Macroalgal spores are collected from ripe plants then seeded onto polyamide strings.
Here the spores germinate to form tiny plants 2mm long, which are transferred to sea after two months then harvested six to eight months later, when they will have attained a length of over two metres.