CO2 bio-sequestration by means of microalgae is a winning approach. The CO2 captured in this way is naturally transformed into O2 and organic matter through the process of photosynthesis. This organic matter produced “upstream”, with appropriate pre-treatment processes, can be converted into valuable “downstream” products, such as biofuels, feed, fertilizers and so on. The research we carry on in our laboratory aims to investigate which factors can modulate CO2 bio-fixation rate and / or the production of biodiesel and other high-value products by the use of different strains inside a light-emitting diode photobioreactor (MC 1000-OD-MIX, Photon Systems Instruments, Czech Republic). The microalgae capacity of biofixation is evaluated taking into account the combined effect of several independent variables: volume% of CO2, wavelengths and intensity of light, concentration of N, concentration of P, temperature, etc.
Another goal is to use microalgae to purify agro-industry effluents. This promising environmental bio-refinery approach aims to develop an efficient process to remove nitrogen or other polluting and environmentally harmful components, returning purified water and algal biomass. Depending on the type of water with which the microalgae will be in contact, they can be then used for the production of nutraceuticals, cosmetics, medicines, or even more simply as complement to anumal nutrition.
Finally, we are evaluating the use of microalgae for the management of water resources integrated in the systems for the production of electricity from renewable sources (in collaboration with the engineers of the BEELab – unimore) which led in 2019 to a patent n. 102017000082284.