Immobilising Microalgae and Cyanobacteria as Biocomposites: New Opportunities to Intensify Algae Biotechnology and Bioprocessing

Gary S. Caldwell*, Pichaya In-na, Rachel Hart, Elliot Sharp, Assia Stefanova, Matthew Pickersgill, Matthew Walker, Matthew Unthank, Justin Perry, Jonathan G. M. Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Abstract

There is a groundswell of interest in applying phototrophic microorganisms, specifically microalgae and cyanobacteria, for biotechnology and ecosystem service applications. However, there are inherent challenges associated with conventional routes to their deployment (using ponds, raceways and photobioreactors) which are synonymous with suspension cultivation techniques. Cultivation as biofilms partly ameliorates these issues; however, based on the principles of process intensification, by taking a step beyond biofilms and exploiting nature inspired artificial cell immobilisation, new opportunities become available, particularly for applications requiring extensive deployment periods (e.g., carbon capture and wastewater bioremediation). We explore the rationale for, and approaches to immobilised cultivation, in particular the application of latex-based polymer immobilisation as living biocomposites. We discuss how biocomposites can be optimised at the design stage based on mass transfer limitations. Finally, we predict that biocomposites will have a defining role in realising the deployment of metabolically engineered organisms for real world applications that may tip the balance of risk towards their environmental deployment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2566
Number of pages18
JournalEnergies
Volume14
Issue number9
Early online date29 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Apr 2021

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