A unique cycle of processing algae into valuable materials and its residual biomass into sorbents for water purification with biogas generation was proposed by scientists of Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) in collaboration with the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH). The project is to be implemented within 3 years' time.
It is planned to cultivate (grow) microalgae (chlorella) and a higher aquatic plant (duckweed) in order to obtain after processing lipids, carotenoids, pectin substances. These valuable components are used in medicine, energy, food and other industries.
Previously remaining after algae and duckweed's processing biomass was thrown away. Within the frameworks of the project, it is planned to make sorption materials for water purification from these wastes. The obtained sorbent may be used for producing drinking water, effluent treatment and water purification from heavy metals and oil products.
After water purification the sorbent is also utilized resulting in biogas – methane with carbon dioxide. Methane is supposed to be used for household needs and carbon dioxide is necessary for algae aerating and its further growth.
"The uniqueness of our research is its closed-cycle mechanism. We proposed completely non-waste manufacturing, energy and resource-saving technology, that produces a number of valuable materials with a wide range of applications" said Natalia Politayeva, deputy director for science at the Higher School of Biotechnology and Food Technologies SPbPU.
Using duckweed to produce pectic substances is more economically advantageous than currently used valuable objects such as apples and citruses. The duckweed and microalgae chlorella grow in wildlife in natural climatic conditions, which is cost- effective for the project implementation.