Purification and recycling of agriculturally used water is an issue that is receiving more and more attention. Algae can accumulate large quantities of nitrate or phosphate, for example, and thus have the potential to clean agricultural effluents as well as to be used as nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers. A BioSC workshop on this topic with international participation took place at Forschungszentrum Jülich on September 6 and 7, 2018.
The workshop was headed by Dr. Ladislav Nedbal. Algae scientists from all over the world, including Australia, the US and numerous European countries participated.
The mini conference on the first day covered a broad range of topics and connected basic and applied research. Initially, the focus was on the mechanisms of nutrient uptake and release in algae. This was followed by the development of analysis methods such as Raman and NMR spectroscopy that allow, amongst other things, the analysis of nutrients in individual algal cells. Another complex of themes was the further development of different cultivation methods for algae –from bioreactors to “phytobags” to floating cultivation in open water basins. The final sessions dealt with the use of algae in wastewater treatment and plant fertilizers. Some impressive application examples were shown.
The poster exhibition provided additional topics for conversation during the breaks. PhD students, amongst others, presented posters on topics including algae as plant fertilizer, algae cultivation, biofuels and use of algae in public wastewater treatment. The first day of the meeting ended with an evening tour of the algae farm located at Forschungszentrum Jülich.
The second day aimed mainly at the development of communication strategies to make the topic more known to the scientific and general public. First, the session chairs from the first day summarized the most important contents. Patrik Jones (Imperial College, London) and Ladislav Nedbal led the plenum through voting on the structure of the subsequent sub-theme working groups. The topics “fundamental research”, “proof-of-concept in the lab” and “up-scale” were first discussed in three groups and then presented to the entire plenary. The two-day workshop ended with the objective to design together a special edition in the scientific journal “Algal issue – Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts”.