Matsu is a tiny Taiwanese island located off the eastern coast of China. Isolated in the sea, the atoll has had little potential for economic development, and has for the most part has fallen further and further behind its mother country. That is, until a strange bioluminescent algae began blooming on its shores. Scientifically referred to as dinoflagellates, the organisms cause the surface of the ocean to sparkle a deep, ethereal blue at night. The spectacle has attracted thousands of tourists, and has become an integral symbol within local culture. There’s only one problem. The frequency, duration, and relative intensity of the natural phenomenon is directly attributed to nutrient pollution. Beautiful at nightfall, by day the algae curdles the water with a thick red pigment, and feasts upon organisms in the water. The algae heighten ammonia levels in the sea, and with the help of thousands of pounds of floating trash and industrial waste, are capable of destroying marine life and threatening human welfare. The ‘blue island’ is a bio-digital installation by island chen that recreates the dinoflagellates’ habitat in a contained environment. Adapted to function using agricultural wastes, combined with a roof bound fresnel lens — to increase photosynthesis energy. ‘Blue island’ is intended to act as an educational tool to help people remember that the algae is harmful, no matter how aesthetically pleasing. It also functions as a much-safer, viable option to retain the now burgeoning eco-tourism industry. https://vimeo.com/132576923 Read more at: http://www.designboom.com/technology/island-chen-the-blue-island-bioluminescent-algae-installation-07-07-2015/
The applications for solar panels seem endless. In fact, they’re now moving on to unknown land… Well, it’s not really land at all – it’s water. Clean energy companies are looking to wetlands, lakes, ponds, and canals as building grounds as the location of their new solar panels. So far, floating solar structures have been planned for the United Kingdom, Australia, India, and Italy. But it’s in Japan’s Yamakura Dam that the biggest floating plant, in terms of how much it output it can produce, will soon be placed atop the reservoir of Japan’s in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo. Solar Panels on the Water The project is scheduled to be completed in March 2016. It will cover 180,000 square meters, hold 50,000 photovoltaic solar panels, and power nearly 5,000 households. Interestingly, the project will also offset nearly 8,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually – the same amount as 1,700 car emissions. The Yamakura Dam project is a collaboration between 3 companies: Kyocera, a Kyoto-based electronics manufacturer; Ciel et Terre, a French company that designs, finances, and operates photovoltaic installations; and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation. So why are we building on water, instead of land? Building on water helps to free up surrounding land agricultural use, conservation, or other development. Environmental Impact Yet here are concerns over the project. You can’t simply place a solar panel in any ol’ lake or reservoir. Yang Yang, a engineering professor at the University of California, Los Angeles specializing in photovoltaic solar panels, says of the project: “Overall, this is a very interesting idea. If successful, it will bring a huge impact. However, I do have concerns of its safety against storms and other natural disasters, not to mention corrosion.” Solar energy plants on the water are clearly more susceptible to changes in weather, but moreover they have to be thoroughly waterproofed, including all panels and wiring. It’s not just bad weather, but natural disasters that have to be taken into consideration as Japan is a hot spot for typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, and tidal waves. To make sure that the platforms stay intact, Ciel et Terre’s R&D team tested them in a wind tunnel that matched the same conditions of a hurricane. Also, the panels have to adhere to certain environmental regulations. That is one reason we chose Ciel et Terre’s floating platforms, which are 100 percent recyclable and made of high-density polyethylene that can withstand ultraviolet rays and corrosion,” says Ichiro Ikeda, general manager of Kyocera’s marketing division. The project also impacts the water’s environment as the sun that the algae soak up is taken in through the panels, making the water cooler and darker, which can sometimes often halt algae growth – which can be both a good and a bad thing. With 70% of the earth’s surface covered in water, this could present companies with a whole new terrain with which to work on. However, the ocean is still a distant dream, with Kyocera’s Ikeda explaining that there are a variety of issues at play, such as waves and changing water levels that could damage the panels. Read more at : http://www.greenerideal.com/alternative-energy/0117-japan-building-worlds-largest-floating-solar-plant/
Microalgae May Be New Natural Source for AntibioticsA recent article in Phycologia indicates that microalgae could provide alternative ways of producing antibiotics. This “untapped” source may prove to be highly valuable due to bacteria’s growing resistance to antibodies. Bacteria are resourceful, and their growing resistance to antibiotics has drawn attention and caused concern worldwide. There is an urgent need to find new sources of antibiotics. Among other options, scientists are turning to natural compounds from relatively unexplored microorganisms. The authors of an article published in the current issue of the journal Phycologia looked at one such group of microorganisms: microalgae. Researchers have investigated only a few species so far, but work with freshwater microalgae collected from remote, scientifically unexplored regions in northern Canada has produced several promising candidates for antibiotics. Microalgae are found everywhere: in lakes, rivers, garden ponds, even swimming pools. Yet little research has focused on them as potential antibiotics. Most antibiotics used today were created from bacteria, and the increasing resistance of the bacteria has prompted research into synthetic variations. The authors of the current article argue that microalgae may be another potential source of resistance-proof antibiotics. The authors give an overview of some of the research on microorganisms as antibiotics. They focus on the antibacterial activity of cyanobacteria and eukaryotic unicellular algae, collectively referred to as microalgae. Screening programs are being used to search for potentially useful strains of these microalgae. Researchers have found that microalgae can survive in and adapt to a range of harsh environmental conditions. Changes in temperature, light, pH, salinity, and the availability of nutrients have been extensively studied for their effects on microalgal growth. The adaptability of the microalgae suggests that they can develop resistance against a variety of stresses. Microalgae also produce compounds that can stand up to the activity of some of the bacteria that sicken people. When their environment changes, these microorganisms produce even more antibacterial compounds. This makes them a potential resource in manufacturing antibiotic drugs. Advances in technologies that can detect, purify, and identify the antibacterial compounds produced by microalgae only increase the possibilities for new antibiotics. The authors concluded that the range and variety of microalgae, as well as their antibacterial activity, could make them an important source of new antibiotics. Their ability to survive and adapt to a range of environments may be highly valuable to drug manufacturers. Still, there are no commercially available antibiotics from microalgae. More research is needed into these microorganisms to take advantage of this “untapped” source. Read more at: http://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/15/06/p5626783/microalgae-may-be-new-natural-source-for-antibiotics http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/algae-the-new-antibiotic/
The Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA) has chosen Scott Steinford as the new president of the organization. Mr. Steinford has over 15 years’ experience in the dietary supplement industry and replaces Ed Wyszumiala.
“Scott’s experience working with associations, media and the industry is unmatched and is ideal for this role,” said Ed Hofland, NAXA chairman of the board. “He will build on the work that’s been done and help NAXA grow and evolve to realize its vision of the industry understanding the benefits of natural astaxanthin.”
“I strongly believe in the importance and value a trade organization can bring towards the advancement of an ingredient,” said Steinford. “NAXA is important because transparency and education are paramount in today’s marketplace. NAXA will serve to educate both the dietary supplement consumer and industry of the benefits of natural astaxanthin and the quality of the associated ingredient manufacturers.”
Steinford merges industry experience representing ingredient manufacturers, retail brand, trade organization leadership and management consulting. Steinford serves on the editorial advisory boards of several key dietary supplement industry trade publications, including Nutrition Business Journal, Natural Foods Merchandiser, and Nutraceuticals World.
Steinford has a Pre-Law Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Master’s of Science Degree in Law from Champlain College. Scott held a pivotal role with a variety of ingredient manufacturers including Eisai, Kaneka and was a founder of ZMC-USA. Most recently he served as CEO of Doctor’s Best, Inc.
Read more at: http://www.algaeindustrymagazine.com/scott-steinford-named-president-of-naxa/
A young CEO who invented an algae-based polymer that instantly seals wounds is now ready to start distributing the product to veterinarians under the name "VetiGel." Joe Landolina originally created the first version of his product, VetiGel, in his grandfather's lab when he was only 17 years-old. Now 22, the young CEO of Suneris, a biotech company that manufactures the VetiGel, is ready to start shipping it out to veterinarians for use in surgery. Landolina told Business Insider that, when injected into a wound site, the gel can form a clot that stops the bleeding within 12 seconds and permanently heals the wound within minutes. The gel contains algae-based polymers that act as a sealant and expedite the clotting process. Sealing the wound allows platelets to accumulate at the site of the injury to form a mesh. The mesh helps the body produce fibrin, the clotting protein that helps to repair tissue in the long term. So not only does VetiGel stop the bleeding, it also permanently heals the wound. And because it's plant-based, the gel can be left to safely absorb into the body after use. The company recently began taking pre-orders from veterinarians and will begin shipping this summer. A pack of five, five-milliliter syringes costs $150. Landolina told BI that the plan is to expand into human use in the coming years. He believes that VetiGel will receive FDA approval for human use within the year. BI reports that if the product gains FDA approval, it will first be used by military personnel; then EMTs to treat traumatic injuries; then in operating rooms; and finally in individuals' homes. "Powders, specially treated gauze pads and tiny injectable sponges are already approved to stop bleeding," explained Dr. Christopher Asandra, Chief Medical officer of NuMale Medical Center and an experienced emergency room physician. "For the military, these products are particularly useful in addressing wounds that occur where the limbs meet the torso, because tying tourniquets over these injuries is very difficult," he said. "The U.S. Department of Defense has said that 'hemorrhage is the leading cause of death on the battlefield,' so it comes as no surprise that the U.S. Department of Defense has been a champion for the research and development behind these hemostatic agents." Read more at: http://in.askmen.com/health-sports-news/1107199/article/vetigel-algae-based-polymer-seals-wounds-instantly
If you frequent your local health-food market, you’ll probably encounter some sort of nutritional supplement called microalgae. While microalgae are a great source of protein and all, they’re much more than a food source for health freaks. They’re now also being used as a source of heat and light for your home. You heard right: algae living inside of your lamps. Designers Jacob Douenias and Ethan Frier have put together an art installation at The Mattress Factory, a division of The Museum of Contemporary Art, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that uses the power of Spirulina algae housed in glass bioreactors to illuminate and heat the entire futuristic home display. You can pop the lamps open and eat the algae, if that’s what you’re into. (Of course it needs to be filtered and dried first). Douenias and Frier are actually working with chefs and bartenders to concoct algae dishes and drinks for special events held at the exhibit. So why use algae to light up the place? As it turns out, algae can actually thrive in very alkaline waters where other bacteria really can’t live. As the algae grow inside of the custom glass enclosures, the liquid becomes an even darker green and capable of absorbing more light. “Individual Spirulina filaments which are just barely visible to the naked eye (one-third of a millimeter long) can be seen mixing inside the glass vessels,” according to Living Things. The exhibit consists of three rooms: a living room, dining room, and kitchen/control center where different algae lamps are on display. The different lighting units are all connected by a half-mile of plumbing and wiring, along with pumps, LED drivers, and heater connectors that all live inside of the cabinets and make this entire display possible. The glass vessels filled with the algae don’t just illuminate the display home; they also act as photobioreactors that provide heat, light, agitation, and waste control to the algae living inside. Visitors can manipulate the 3D-printed controls in the kitchen to harvest the algae when it’s ready to be eaten. The installation will be open until March 2016. https://vimeo.com/128654962 Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/microalgae-lamps-can-light-your-home-and-are-edible/#ixzz3dWGGpkpd
DENVER - Living Ink Technologies has developed a patent-pending process to use algae as an ink that grows! "It's what grows in the ponds, the lakes, the oceans," said Living Ink Technologies co-founder and Colorado State University PhD candidate, Scott Fulbright. He says the green stuff could change the way we think about ink. "Nature provides a lot of bio-diversity for us to work with," he said. "I can send you a greeting card where some of the letters pop-up and then the next day some more letters pop-up. You have to guess what it says by the end of the week after the whole message grows." It's a message that only appears when the recipient hangs the card in the sunlight. Fulbright and his business partner, Steve Albers, won first prize at the University of Colorado Denver's Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition. They hope to cash-in on the $8 billion greeting card industry and one day take on commercial printers with safe, renewable algae-derived ink. "It saves the consumer potentially a lot of money, and if it takes off it has the potential to revolutionize the ink industry," said Madhavan Parthasarathy, Associate Professor at the CU Denver Business School Living Ink will be launching a Kickstarter campaign mid-August for their stem algae coloring books. Read more at: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/thenow/algae-ink-from-living-ink-technologies-wins-top-prize-at-cu-denver-competition http://www.livinginktechnologies.com/
Thousands of samples at the UK’s ‘algae bank’ will need to be re-labelled as a ground-breaking new screening tool has revealed greater diversity then was previously known within the collection. Analysing the protein fingerprint of 32 algae which had all previously been catalogued under the same heading, experts from Newcastle University and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) found they actually divided into four distinct sub-groups and that one was apparently a completely new species. Now scientist at the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP) in Oban, Scotland, are preparing to embark on the mammoth task of analyzing and relabeling the 3,000-strong collection in light of the new research which is published this month in the academic journal Scientific Reports. Dr Gary Caldwell, a Senior Lecturer in Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University, said: "We're only just beginning to understand the vast unlocked potential of algae as an energy source, a clean-up tool and as a food. "And part of the reason for this is that we still know relatively little about them. Properly identifying and categorising the different strains is a key step towards unlocking that potential and that is why research like this is so important." The exploitation of marine and aquatic organisms for biotechnology applications – so-called 'blue biotechnology' – has risen to the forefront of the global research agenda over the past decade. Algae and cyanobacteria have been shown to have huge potential – their ability to convert sunlight into biomass, capacity to grow in saline or hypersaline environments and their ability to metabolise industrial and domestic waste (including CO2 and wastewater) making them attractive targets for industry. Professor John Day of SAMS said the new screening tool had 'huge potential' and could lead to scientists discovering new high value chemicals and toxins that may have gone undetected. He added: "Our understanding of the biodiversity at the CCAP and the relationship of each organism to another is very fluid, so we are constantly learning more about these strains. "This fingerprinting will give us much more precise identification and even tell us where these strains have come from, in terms of family links. It can tell us what a cell is doing and what it's made of." Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the CCAP is a national resource – the algal equivalent to the Millennium seed bank at Kew. Using proteomic-based biotyping – a rapid and accurate method of strain separation – the research team analysed 32 algae which had all previously been labelled as being the same based on key DNA markers and physical characteristics. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-06-biotyping-tool-reveals-hidden-diversity.html#jCp http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150512/srep10036/full/srep10036.html
Microscopic algae buried in a tropical mountaintop ice cap are helping researchers better understand what the environment was like more than a millennium ago. Finding diatoms — which are single-celled algae — in an ice cap high atop the Andes in Peru came as a surprise to the researchers, who originally intended to examine their ice samples for possible carbon content. This is the first time researchers have found diatoms in glacial ice from a tropical region, according to the study. Scanning electron microscope photograph of a freshwater diatom found in the Quelccaya Ice Cap on the Andes in Peru. Diatoms, which are a fraction of the width of a human hair, can typically be found wherever there is water. Some are generalists, requiring only water, while others are pickier, living exclusively in salty or fresh water, or thriving only where the levels of certain nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, are low or high. Regardless of where they are, the organisms are usually at the bottom of the food chain in their habitat. Diatoms had previously been found in glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, and other polar and alpine regions, said lead author Sherilyn Fritz, a professor of geosciences at the University of Nebraska. Fritz said that the diatoms in Greenland's glaciers got there by latching onto dust particles in North America and travelling to Greenland on wind power as part of the system involving global dust circulation. In contrast, the new research suggests that the diatoms found in the Quelccaya Ice Cap in the tropical Andes of southern Peru had a much shorter commute, Fritz told Live Science. The researchers think that these diatoms likely originated in one of the many nearby high-altitude lakes or freshwater wetlands, because most of the diatoms that the researchers found, like Brachysira vitera and Aulacoseira alpigena, are specific to such habitats. Mountaintop regions are notoriously windy — the diatoms may have been swept up from the lakes by the wind and carried to the icy mountaintop. Eduardo Morales Luizaga, an adjunct professor and expert in diatoms at the Universidad Católica Boliviana San Pablo Regional Cochabamba in Bolivia, who was not involved in the study, agreed that the wind might have carried the diatoms. But it's also possible that birds and other animals that drank or bathed in a nearby lake might have carried the diatoms — on feathers, feet or fur — to the glacier, or to the small ponds that can form on the ice during warmer periods. When the temperature drops, it traps the diatoms in an icy tomb, he said. Although not as abundant, the researchers also found diatoms from global dust in the ice. However, these diatoms were so excellently preserved that it is unlikely they had traveled very far, the researchers said. The core that the researchers analyzed was taken from around 480 feet deep (140 meters), and included ice that was deposited over a span of almost 2,000 years. The oldest diatoms found in the ice dated to the dawn of the Middle Ages, during the sixth century, and the younger diatoms dated to the later Middle Ages, during the 12th Century. Lonnie Thompson, a professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University and an expert on ice core paleoclimatology, collected the Quelccaya Ice Cap samples in 2003. The discovery of the diatoms in the ice shows that tropical glaciers have potential for researchers to investigate "how not just diatoms, but other life forms such as ancient microbes survived, thrived and evolved under extreme conditions and under very different climatic regimes," he said in a statement. Fritz said she was concerned about the rapid climate change-induced melting of the ice cap, and the implications of this for the local people who depend on the ice for water, as well as future paleo-environment research. She said that the ice is "very hard-won, and there's not much of it." The study was published in May in the journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research. Read more at: http://www.livescience.com/51132-ancient-algae-tropical-ice-cap.html
The process of surfacing a road isn’t complicated. Layers of asphalt, which is composed mostly of bitumen (a byproduct of crude oil distillation), are poured over an aggregate of crushed stone and sand; the asphalt acts as a glue, binding the mixture together to form asphalt concrete. Maintaining the roads, however, is a costly job. According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance it would cost more than £12bn to restore all road networks in England alone to a reasonable condition. Simon Hesp, a professor and chemical engineer at Queen’s University in Ontario, believes standard industry asphalt is not sustainable. “The problem with the composition is that it’s poorly controlled … it uses materials with poor performances,” he says. Hesp says the presence of certain oil residues lowers the quality of the concrete and is a key reason why roads are failing and many potholes need to be filled and cracks fixed. But there’s not just a maintenance cost. Asphalt, dependent as it is on the oil industry, is resource- and energy-intensive, which is why the race is on to develop a greener alternative. In Sydney an experiment is under way using printer toner waste blended with recycled oil to produce an environmentally friendly asphalt. And in the past few years there have been studies into the development of non-petroleum bioasphalts. At Washington State University researchers developed asphalt from cooking oil, and last year academics at Wageningen University in the Netherlands found that lignin – a natural substance found in plants and trees – is another suitable replacement for crude oil bitumen. Other investigations have looked into the use of soybean and canola oil (rapeseed oil) and coffee grounds. The WSU research, led by Haifang Wen and published at the end of 2013, concluded that the introduction of cooking oil can increase bioasphalt’s resistance to cracking . Wenn also claims it’s possible that, if commercialised, such bioasphalts could cost much less per tonne. The price of standard asphalt can fluctuate wildly as it’s dependent on the price of oil. Hesp isn’t convinced that cooking oil is the way forward. He says, like petroleum, over time it will cause roads to fail because of weak bonds. Bruno Bujoli, director of research at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), agrees that the use of cooking oil “chemically modified to reach appropriate mechanical properties” could significantly affect quality. He also sounds a note of caution about food security, saying that asphalt based on vegetable oils could, if scaled up, affect food stocks Bujoli recently played a key role in developing a bioasphalt from microalgae. It uses a process known as hydrothermal liquefaction, which is used to convert waste biomass, including wood and sewage, into biocrude oil. The chemical composition of the microalgae bioasphalt differs from petroleum-derived asphalt, but initial tests have concluded that it also bears similar viscous properties and can bind aggregates together efficiently, as well as being able to cope with loads such as vehicles. How it will perform over time is yet to be determined. The findings were published in April. Green roads Bujoli suggests that microalgae – also known for its use in the production of cosmetic and textile dyes – is a greener and more appropriate solution than agricultural oils. The latter, he says, should be kept for food production. “The benefits of microalgae over other sources include low competition for arable land, high per hectare biomass yields and large harvesting turnovers. There is also the opportunity to recycle wastewater and carbon dioxide as a way of contributing to sustainable development,” he adds. It’s a neat idea, with an admirable green mission behind it, but how much of an impact can it really have? Technology such as this is still in its infancy, suggests Heather Dylla, director of sustainable engineering at the National Asphalt Pavement Association, a US trade organisation for the paving industry. “A lot of interesting work is being done in this area, looking at everything from algae, to swine waste, to byproducts from paper making. It’s worth exploring these alternatives, but we need to be sure they provide equivalent or improved engineering properties. We need to understand how they affect the recyclability of asphalt pavement mixtures,” she says. She points to the “unique” advantage of asphalt when it comes to recycling. “Not only are the aggregates, which make up about 95% of [asphalt concrete], put back to use, but the bitumen can also be reactivated and used again as the glue that holds a pavement together.” Microalgae could yet put the paving industry on the road to a greener future. For now though, there are plenty of challenges – from price to scalability – for Bujoli and his team to address if the bioasphalt is to be commercialised. “This is our research focus for the near future. Our current laboratory equipment works in a batch mode,” explains Bujoli. “Scaling up the process will require the design of a large-volume reactor that can operate under continuous flow conditions.” Read more at: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/jun/08/from-oil-to-algae-eco-friendly-asphalt-could-be-the-route-to-greener-roads