Scientists at the Institute for Multidisciplinary Research of the University of Belgrade have managed, according to the first results of a three-year project, unique in the world, to increase the production of fats in algae for around 30% through the method of “stressing”, which will have a great impact on the production of biodiesel in the future.
The director of the project and a research consultant at the Institute for Multidisciplinary Research, Ivan Spasojevic, says that, after two years of work, they produced extraordinary results, which can considerably lower the price of biodiesel globally and contribute to its use as a biological fuel, an alternative to fossil fuels.
– Microalgae have already been recognized by the largest oil companies as a possible future, in addition to electrical energy. In the US, they invest in microalgae research – Spasojevic told Tanjug.
He adds that, for example, one of the largest American oil companies, Exxon, invests in research of the production of biodiesel from algae, except that they genetically modify algae.
Let us remind that the Institute for Multidisciplinary Research already produces oxygen from microalgae.
On the other hand, the Institute has initiated the project of “positive stressing” of algae with the help of sunlight and other influences, under the title of “Radiation Hormesis in the Service of Increasing Biomass Yields from Microalgae”, which has shown that algae produce good results when they are under moderate “stress”, that is, that they produce more lipids which are used to make biodiesel.
The project began in 2017, under the NATO program “Science for Peace and Security”, in cooperation with the University of Manchester and the Baylor University in Texas, as well as the company Varicon Aqua from Great Britain, which produces bioreactors and systems for the growing of microalgae.
Spasojevic says that the scientific knowledge gained through the project will be available to everyone and that Serbia could become energy independent if it started growing microalgae and producing biodiesel.
– This would have to be production at a great volume. It would be very important if we had our own oil, that is, our own biodiesel, especially in the case of a large global crisis – says the interviewee of Tanjug.
Some of the advantages of making biodiesel from microalgae is that the pools and ponds are located on the land which is not good for anything else, Spasojevic says and adds that biomass produced from algae can also be used as animal feed.
A new laboratory for microalgae has been established within the institute, where algae are exposed to low intensity stress, inducing increased production of larger amounts of lipids – the hormesis phenomenon.
– The project will be completed in August 2020 and we are now having a meeting with partners from the USA and the UK – added the director of the project.
The method is now to be implemented on other types of algae and students are to be trained in this field so that Serbia could develop its know-how and have experts in that field.