The ocean is the largest ecosystem on Earth, and yet we know very little about it. This is particularly true for the plankton that inhabit the ocean. Although these organisms are at least as important for the Earth system as the rainforests and form the base of marine food webs, most plankton are invisible to the naked eye and thus are largely uncharacterized. To study this invisible world, the multinational TaraOceans consortium, with use of the 110-foot research schooner Tara, sampled microscopic plankton at 210 sites and depths up to 2000 m in all the major oceanic regions during expeditions from 2009 through 2013 (1). Research schooner Tara supported a multinational, multidisciplinary team in sampling plankton ecosystems around the world.
- LAREILLE/TARA EXPÉDITIONS
In the future, green buildings may actually be green. A gazebo, unveiled this month at the Expo 2015 world’s fair in Milan, demonstrates how algae-filled plastic could serve as a living “skin” for buildings. “This technology is really quite exciting for us because this is the first time we’ve got it to this scale,” says Marco Poletto, co-founder of ecoLogicStudio, the London architecture and urban design firm that created the 430-square-foot gazebo. EcoLogicStudio calls the project the Urban Algae Folly, playing with the traditional meaning of “folly” as an extravagant garden structure. The gazebo is made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), a transparent plastic building material most famously used in the Water Cube aquatics center built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The ETFE’s hollow interior is filled with water and spirulina, a type of algae often used as a dietary supplement. The growth of the algae will depend on sunlight and temperature, as well as on input from digital sensors that detect the presence of people and change the algae flows to create different patterns. The more sun, the more the algae will grow and darken the gazebo, providing shade for the people beneath. A portion of the algae will be harvested every week or two to use as food; in the future, similar structures could contain different types of algae to be used as biofuels. Algae are also highly efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen—though trees get all the love, algae and other marine plants make 70 percent of the world’s oxygen. The folly produces about 4.4 pounds of oxygen per day, Poletto says, enough oxygen for three adults in that time. And the structure can suck about 8.8 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air per day, he adds. A single tree absorbs only about .132 pounds each day, or about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a whole year. The gazebo is part of the Future Food District in the Expo, an area of the fair dedicated to new food technologies. Advocates of spirulina, which is high in protein but rather bland, hope it might one day be a sustainable meat substitute. Today, spirulina is mostly used as a dietary supplement, added in powdered form to juices or shakes. “Many see it as an urban food of the future,” Poletto says. The team at ecoLogicStudio has been working on the technology for six years. They’ve consulted with a network of experts, including microbiologists, agronomists, ETFE manufacturers and computer systems engineers. Currently, the ETFE-algae structures cost about 1,200 euros (about $1,308) to build, though the price will likely drop as the technology advances. Poletto hopes to implement the technology on a much larger scale in the future. Ultimately, entire buildings could be clad in algae-filled ETFE. These green “skins” would provide shade, give off oxygen and produce food or biofuel. EcoLogicStudio has created a digital rendering of a multi-story building; Poletto says they’re in talks with various partners to make this a reality down the road. “[The Folly] is significant because the material technology that it utilizes is fit for large and permanent architectural scenarios,” Poletto says. “This is the world first ETFE living and productive architectural skin. Now we only need investors with the vision to roll this out on a larger scale.” Poletto and his collaborators plan to observe visitors interacting with the gazebo during the six months it’s on display at the Milan Expo. They then plan to take what they’ve learned and incorporate it into future designs. There is some precedent for algae architecture. The Bio Intelligent Quotient house, built in 2013 in the German city of Hamburg, is covered with 129 algae-filled glass bioreactors—an exterior that cost $6.58 million. On sunny days, the algae’s growth can generate enough heat to warm the building’s floors and water. The algae is harvested once a week and taken to a nearby university to be converted into biofuel. Unfortunately the tanks make loud, rhythmic pumping noises, annoying some tenants. Algae have also been used in a number of other recent urban innovations. French biochemist Pierre Calleja created a prototype for a “smog-eating” algae street lamp, which uses bioluminescent microalgae to light streets while absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Last year, the Cloud Collective, a French and Dutch design group, built an algae “garden” in transparent tubes mounted to the side of a Geneva highway overpass. Rooftop spirulina farming has recently taken off in Bangkok as a form of urban food security. Though these projects have shown promise and generated interest, the lack of larger scale implementation suggests the technology has a ways to go before “pond scum green” replaces concrete gray as the color of our cities. Poletto estimates buildings with algae façades will be common in the next five years. Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/will-buildings-future-be-cloaked-algae-180955396/#uBIzXgMsP3PH59wX.99
Portugal Press reports that, in a bid to make truly healthy and tasty bread, a group of Portuguese researchers have come up with a recipe that calls for no salt, using algae instead as a taste enhancer. The project was developed by the Marine Resources Research Group (GIRM) from the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria and is now being supported by the Mais Centro programme and the borough council of Peniche. The bread, named ‘Pão D’Algas’, is already being sold by bread company Calé in the stores it owns in Peniche and Caldas da Rainha, but the long-term goal is to expand to the rest of the country. “The idea came when we decided to find new ways to use sea algae,” Susana Mendes, the coordinator of the project, told online news portal Boas Notícias. She added that the algae bread can be a good alternative for people who are looking to cut down on salt as it is “just as tasty” and is a “good antioxidant”. According to the news portal, excessive salt consumption is one of the main causes behind the Portuguese problem of many people with high blood pressure. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that Portuguese people on average consume twice the recommended intake of salt. Source: http://www.algaeindustrymagazine.com/researchers-create-healthy-algae-bread/
Athens, Ga. - Continued University of Georgia research on the threatened Caribbean reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata, finds that latitudinal patterns play a key role in the type of symbiotic algae that the coral associates with. The findings, recently published in the journal Coral Reefs, may have implications for future management practices in the face of increasing environmental stressors. Reef-building corals harbor tiny plantlike algae inside of their bodies. These symbiotic algae gather energy from the sun and manufacture sugars that feed the coral, enabling coral reefs to grow and thrive in nutrient-poor waters. Orbicella faveolata, also known as mountainous star coral, is a common, but increasingly threatened, species of reef-building coral that is widely distributed throughout the Caribbean. Like most reef corals, Orbicella faveolata forms a symbiosis with algae; however, what makes this species of coral so unusual is its association with multiple types of photosynthetic symbiotic algae, depending on where it lives. This study found the diversity of symbiotic algae that interact with the mountainous star coral is geographically specific. This means that the corals found in Florida have different species of algae than the corals in Belize, Mexico and the Bahamas, according to Dustin Kemp, a postdoctoral research associate in the UGA Odum School of Ecology who led the study. Kemp took multiple within-coral colony samples from different geographic regions to get a fine-scale understanding of the variation of symbiotic algae that exists on them. "We think that local environmental conditions are predictive of which species of coral and their algae that we will find in a particular region," said Daniel Thornhill, an affiliated faculty member at Auburn University and a UGA alumnus, who co-authored the study. "Environmental conditions are relevant because specific host-symbiont combinations depend on where the coral lives. These symbioses are the result of long-term ecological and evolutionary processes," Kemp said. "If you go into the tropics—Mexico and Belize—there may be several species of algae within one coral, but if you're in a subtropical area—Florida Keys—there are far fewer," Thornhill said. Study authors found that, depending on the species of algae and the water temperature where the coral lives, some are more susceptible to climate change and other environmental threats. The coral reef's latitudinal patterns uncovered in this research explain their algae association, which determines their susceptibility. "This suggests that different corals may be affected differently by climate change. Understanding coral-algal symbiosis is an important piece of the puzzle for understanding the broad reaching effects that climate change has on coral reef ecosystems," Kemp said. "Some types (of symbiotic algae) are more susceptible to thermal stressors, making the coral more susceptible to coral bleaching, a stress response of turning white due to the loss of symbiotic algae." Thornhill added, "Coral reef managers should consider how these corals might respond to climate change. I think regionally specific types of management would be appropriate." Additional co-authors include Randi Rotjan, New England Aquarium; Roberto Iglesias-Prieto, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; William Fitt, UGA Odum School of Ecology; and Gregory Schmidt, UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Support for the research came from the National Science Foundation and the World Bank. The study, "Spatially distinct and regionally endemic Symbiodinium assemblages in the threatened Caribbean reef-building coral Orbicella faveolata," is available at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00338-015-1277-z. Source: http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/reef-building-corals-diverse-symbiotic-algae-partners-0515/
3D Fuel & ALGIX Celebrate Earth Day by Introducing Revolutionary Algae Based 3D Printer Filament & Joint Venture
3D Fuel, a manufacturer of 3D printer filament, just announced the launch of its algae based 3D Printer filament through a Joint Venture (JV) with ALGIX, LLC. ALGIX is a clean technology company that produces sustainable plastic products utilizing algae from aquaculture and water treatment technologies. "Our Joint Venture with ALGIX opens an entirely new realm of possibilities for us and the 3D Printing market. We are producing high quality filaments, exceeding the typical industry standard. With our efforts being focused on environmental friendliness, some of the exciting product lines we will be introducing to the market in the coming months have the ability to completely change how users of 3D Printers view their printing materials and their impact on the environment. We are positioned to become the company that is not only setting the standards of quality for printer filaments but setting the standards in how those materials impact the world we live in." says 3D-Fuel co-founder Matthew Stegall.
ALGIX, which is a leader in producing sustainable bio-plastic composites, is equally excited about its JV partnership with 3D Fuel in producing a more environmentally friendly 3D printer filament. "We saw 3D Fuel as an emerging leader in this industry who wanted to add a more earth friendly filament to its core product offering, which we are able to provide through our Solaplast algae filament and sustainable business practices," says Michael Van Drunen, C.E.O. of ALGIX. "Both companies commitment to excellence in both manufacturing and research and development was a clear indicator that our Joint Venture would be a huge success. With our core values being very synergistic, we know our customers will see the difference in not just our product offerings, but the principles in our business practices that we bring to the 3D printing market."
3D Fuel recently revealed one of its most innovative products to date, Fuel In a Box™. "We are very excited about our trademarked Fuel in a Box™ product," says Stegall. "We wanted to create a first to market product that helped fuel people's creativity in a convenient and productive way. There's nothing worse than having to change out filament in the middle of your printing project. Now you can use a continuous run of filament from a 5 or 20 kg dispensing box."
One of the things that allows 3D Fuel to stand out among its competitors, besides the innovative products it produces, is its manufacturing process. 3D Fuel uses the purest and highest quality raw materials for its filament. "What sets 3D Fuel apart is our background in custom compounding and years of experience with filled polymers in the plastics industry," says Ashton Zeller, Director of Research and Development. "This experience lends us to a higher degree of filament testing, which in turn delivers unmatched quality to our customers."
Ryan Hunt, CTO of ALGIX states, "3D Fuel is leveraging the vertically integrated manufacturing capabilities of ALGIX including biomass processing, micronization, compounding, filament extrusion and logistics. This allows us to rapidly innovate by taking ideas to end products in a short period of time." While developing innovative products and manufacturing the highest quality filament is 3D Fuel's top priority, it remains poised to become an industry leader and proponent of sustainable products and services that are important to the entire industry. Recently, 3D Fuel invited GreenDisk and reShootz to become part of this focus using their recycled material line. "Our mission is to create a synergistic group of like-minded and sustainability focused firms called the Green Alliance whose core competencies include biodegradability, recyclability and sustainable business practices," says Stegall.3D printing technology is still in its infancy stage and is a dynamic market, but 3D Fuel is committed to growing and responding to this dynamic nature of the industry. "We remain committed to our clients, consumers and to the environment as we grow and expand our business model," says Steve Gall, 3D Fuel Co-Founder. "We fully understand that things change quickly in this industry and that we need to be responsive to new technologies and products that impact our business. At the same time we'll continue to manufacture innovative 3D printer fuels and set unprecedented industry standards for quality and excellence." 3D Fuel's manufacturing facility is located in Meridian, Mississippi.
It comes as no surprise that both 3D Fuel and Algix are committed to Life Cycle Thinking in order to produce more with less. 3D Fuel's new 3D Printer filament lines, coupled with its superior manufacturing processes, will provide at home 3D printing enthusiasts, small scale manufacturers, artisans, designers, engineers and educators piece of mind knowing they are purchasing products from a company that is dedicated to producing high quality filament that has been produced by a sustainably-minded company. If you're ready to fuel your creativity with an innovative and earth friendly 3D printing filament, head over to http://www.3dfuel.com and place your pre-order now or call 657-3DFUEL1 (657-333-8351).
If you're interested in learning about ALGIX, Solaplast or Life Cycle Thinking and sustainably-focused practices, please visit http://www.algix.com.
Also, check out ALGIX and 3D Fuel on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Please participate in our "Green is my favorite color" video campaign by telling us why sustainability is important to you. You can then post your video on your personal social media accounts and submit your video to email@example.com. Remember to use #greenismyfavoritecolor #algix #3dfuel
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On Australia’s east coast, the following images were taken in Jervis Bay, the south coast of NSW, as the neon glow illuminated one of Australia’s popular beaches caused by millions of plankton omitting light. ‘The glow is caused by Noctiluca scintillans, which is a single celled phytoplankton – the algae of the sea – which blossoms in the spring and the autumn and in 90 per cent of occasions occurs due to natural causes,’ Iain Suthers, of University of New South Wales, said. (1) What causes the neon blue fluorescent lights? According to a study from a dinoflagellate (Noctiluca scintillans) bloom last year in Manila Bay, "The non-photosynthetic pigment (NPP) index was ~0.6 at most of the stations, mainly due to the presence of photoprotective pigments like zeaxanthin, lutein and neoxanthin, which led to variations in the blue absorption maxima of the chlorophyll-specific absorption coefficients. The absorption properties of the accessory pigments were masked owing to the presence of overlapping pigment absorption bands. The fourth derivative of the absorption spectra was able to resolve these overlapping features and enhance the absorption characteristics of prominent accessory pigments.”(2) “Coastal oceanic environments are sites of dynamic physical and biogeochemical processes. Over the last few decades, eutrophication-related algal bloom events have been on the rise in coastal areas. Such events alter the colour of the water as a result of the transient proliferation of phytoplankton. The absorption of light by phytoplankton is a major factor contributing to the optical variability of waters both in coastal regions and the open ocean. The shape and magnitude of the phytoplankton absorption spectrum reflect the pigment composition and its concentration in the water. Factors contributing to the variability in a ∗ ph(λ) include pigment packaging (Duysens 1956) and concentrations of non-photosynthetic pigments (Allali 1997, Vijayan et al. 2009). The latter contribute significantly to absorption in the 460–640 nm region of the photosynthetically active radiation (Bidigare 1989b), particularly in coastal waters (Bricaud et al. 1995, Cleveland 1995).” (2) References: 1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3021314/A-beautiful-supernatural-scene-Incredible-images-neon-blue-fluorescent-algae-lights-east-coast-Australia.html 2. Vijayan A, Somayajula S. Effect of accessory pigment composition on the absorption characteristics of a dinoflagellate bloom in a coastal embayment. Oceanologia [serial online]. 2014;56(1):107-124. 3. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-1139278/Glow-dark-waves-washing-Sydney-beach.html
3D Printed Algae Provides Oxygen Source for Growing Bioprinted Human Cells Bioprinting promises to change the way we look at the field of medicine forever. As several companies are already printing living human tissue, it’s only a matter of time before many ailments can be halted via this incredible technology. Although much research still needs to be done, and experts in many different fields will need to work together for a common cause, ultimately we will one day be transplanting entire 3D printed human organs into individuals who likely would have otherwise perished. Bioprinting is defined as the three-dimensional printing of biological tissue and organs through the layering of living cells. This means that not only can animal tissue be printed, but so too can plant tissue, or perhaps even a combination of both animal and plant cells via a coculturization process. Researchers at the Institute of Food Technology and Bioprocess Engineering, Technische Universität Dresden, in Dresden, Germany have teamed with the Centre for Translational Bone, Joint and Soft Tissue Research, at the University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine of Technische Universität Dresden to do just that — 3D print algae-laden hydrogel scaffolds for possible medical applications and uses with 3D printed human tissue. In a paper published recently in the Engineering in Life Sciences journal they describe multiple processes. First the researchers had to prove that it was possible to 3D print growing, living microalgae. To do this they mixed an alginate-based hydrogel with the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The mixture was placed into a cartridge and used within a 3-channel dosing system. Then it was deposited layer by layer onto a platform via a pneumatic dosing control system at a rate of approximately 10mm/sec. From here the 3D printed hydrogel/algae mixture was incubated under light at room temperature for several days. As hoped, the printed material gradually became green as the algae grew, releasing oxygen into the surrounding environment.
“The application of RP [rapid prototyping] methods for encapsulation of microalgae can be expected to open new and interesting possibilities for diverse applications,” wrote the researchers.Such applications may have staggering implications on the health and energy fields. For instance, microalgae can be used in the creation of products such as healthier foods; cosmetics; and pharmaceuticals that cater toward inflammation, bacteria, and even cancer; as well as for biofuels and filtration systems. What’s even more incredible are the possible implications that 3D printed microalgae could have on 3D printed human or mammalian tissue. The general possibility of combination of human and algae cells in one scaffold, in which the two cell types can be cultured in close vicinity, has been successfully demonstrated in the present study,” wrote the researchers. Although researchers have proven that coculturing human and plant cells in close proximity to each other is possible, there is still much work to be done before such methods are able to be used within possible medical applications. Depending on the type of human cells used within such a bioprinting process, conditions have to be perfectly optimized in order for the algae to benefit it in its growth and survival. Regardless, the research being done in this area could have major implications in the long run on the future of bioprinting in general. Let’s hear your thoughts and feedback on these studies and area of research. Source: http://3dprint.com/50379/3d-print-algae-human-cells/
Australian researchers are farming and processing seaweeds from the sea aimed at producing biomaterials such as ingredient for 3D printing BioPen. Seaweed extracts are already commonly used in goods as diverse as toothpaste, skin care products, paint, ice cream and salad dressing. However, research in the field of glycobiology – the study of complex sugars called glycans in living organisms – is showing that gel molecules taken from seaweeds are ideal candidates for medical implants and tissue engineering because they provide the necessary structural support. They also found that seaweed acts as a frontline defense and communication system in supporting or inhibiting the interaction with microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi. “These gels are highly cell compatible and even stimulate the health and development of human stem cells, so in the instance of looking for new polymer materials for medical implants, seaweeds are a key candidate for the source of such materials,” said Dr Pia Winberg at University of Wollongong (UOW). In collaboration with marine scientists at UOW’s Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI), the lead node in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), Dr Winberg and colleagues will investigate how the properties of seaweeds can be harnessed for medical research, particularly in 3D printed implants and for cell compatible materials with bioactive properties. Alginate, an extract from brown seaweeds, has already been used as a cell carrier by IPRI scientists and their partners at St Vincent Hospital Melbourne to aid regrowth of diseased and injured tissue. Other gels known as ulvans will be extracted from the seaweed farmed at the Shoalhaven site and studied for use as a cell carrier in the recently launched 3D printing BioPen, developed by ACES researchers, which will enable orthopaedic surgeons to deliver live cells and growth factors directly to the site of injury, accelerating the regeneration of functional bone and cartilage. The BioPen works similar to 3D printing methods: It layers cell material inside a biopolymer such as alginate, a seaweed extract, protected by a second, outer layer of gel material. The two layers of gel are combined in the pen head as it is extruded onto the bone surface and the surgeon 'draws' with the ink to fill in the damaged bone section. Dr Winberg said the unique properties of ulvans could be used in medical treatments such as in the gut for inhibiting enzymes that release sugar and thus slow down metabolic/diabetic stress, in the blood as an anticoagulant or on skin to reduce tumor growth and increase elasticity. Antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents and next-generation anti-bacterial solutions have also been proposed as uses for ulvan gels. Farming seaweeds is also beneficial to the environment and the economy. Seaweeds strip waste products such as carbon and nitrogen from the ocean and are being used around the world to absorb nutrient inputs from aquaculture and coastal industrial sources. Further, they can be used to oxygenate water and overcome localized ocean acidification. Dr Winberg envisions that Australia can contribute to this global, 18 million tonne biomass industry in a very sophisticated way with a focus on biotech applications. Source: http://www.3ders.org/articles/20140120-seaweed-extract-to-be-used-a-cell-carrier-in-3d-printing-biopen.html
"Eerie fluorescent blue patches of water glimmering off Hong Kong's seashore are magnificent, disturbing and potentially toxic, marine biologists say. The glow is an indicator of a harmful algal bloom created by something called Noctiluca scintillans, nicknamed Sea Sparkle. It looks like algae and can act like algae. But it's not quite. It is a single-celled organism that technically can function as both animal and plant. These type blooms are triggered by farm pollution that can be devastating to marine life and local fisheries, according to University of Georgia oceanographer Samantha Joye, who was shown Associated Press photos of the glowing water. "Those pictures are magnificent. It's just extremely unfortunate that the mysterious and majestic blue hue is created by a Noctiluca," Joye wrote in an email Thursday. This is part of a problem that is growing worldwide, said Joye and other scientists. Noctiluca is a type of single-cell life that eats plankton and is eaten by other species. The plankton and Noctiluca become more abundant when nitrogen and phosphorous from farm run-off increase." (1) “Unable to photosynthesize on their own, these little guys eat algae. But since they sometimes kill that algae and sometimes leave it living inside them, these dinoflagellates—which are commonly called “sea sparkles”—are neither fully plants nor fully animals. But even that bathtime-toy-esque name belies how destructive sea sparkles can be when their numbers grow too huge. While Noctiluca doesn’t produce neurotoxins, like many similar organisms do, they disrupt the food chain in a way that harms other marine life. Many scientists suspect the recent uptick in unusually large Noctiluca blooms has to do with the surge in coastal populations around the Pearl River Delta, the strip of China just north of Hong Kong. Home to Shenzhen, Dongguan, and Guangzhou, to name a few of its mega-cities, the PRD’s population has tripled in just a few decades to more than 66 million.
Hong Kong’s not the only place struggling with this glow-in-the-dark problem. Scientists think Noctiluca blooms in the Arabian Sea are stripping oxygen from the water and creating “dead zones,” wreaking havoc on fisheries there.” (2)
- Pictures source: AP
The paper industry has a reputation of negative environmental impacts from its use of natural resources to the amount of pollutants produced during the paper-making process. “In 2006, the US pulp and paper industry generated over 200 million pounds of hazardous wastes, including TRS and VOCs.” (1) How can algae effect any part of this process? Algae cellulose can be added to make paper with very similar characteristics to wood cellulose paper. It is a project of the ECOWAL research group from the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville. They use different types of algae to avoid the use highly contaminant products in conventional paper production. The result is a paper with similar characteristics to the one obtained from wood. In addition, these researchers study possible applications of this algae cellulose both in the pharmaceutical and the cosmetics industries. You can watch the video at: http://www.andalusianstories.com/the-story-of-the-day/sustainability/news-andalusia-paper-algae/ Sources: http://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/june2011/papermill.htm http://ecowal.webnode.es/