Algae naturally produce oil. When it’s processed, that oil can be turned into biofuel, an alternative energy source. There's just one snag - harvesting the oil from algae-filled water is prohibitively expensive. But researchers have come up with an effervescent solution: bubbles smaller than the width of a human hair can help reduce the costs of collecting algae oil. So-called microbubbles are already used for water purification - they surround contaminants and float them out of the liquid. Similarly, in water containing algae, bubbles can float the algae to the surface for easy collection and processing. The research builds on previous work that used microbubbles to grow algae more densely and thus increase production. This time, however, the researchers produced the fizziness with a new method that uses far less energy, and is cheaper to install. The study is in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering. Although microbubbles improve algae harvesting in the lab, they still have to work at larger scales. The researchers are planning a pilot program for an algae biofuel plant, in the hope of making really green energy.水藻天然可以产生油脂。当这些油脂被加工后,可以转变为生物燃料,一种能源替代物。但这里还有个问题——从充满藻类的水体中富集这些油类造价太高。研究人员们已经想出了一种气泡提取法:比人类头发的宽度还要小的气泡能降低提取藻类油脂的造价。 所谓的微气泡已经用于水体纯化上了——它们包围着污染物并且漂浮在液体上。同样地,在含有藻类的水体中,气泡可包裹藻类浮在液体表面,这样就容易收集并加工处理。 这项研究是基于之前的一项相关研究从而产生的,之前使用了微泡法培养藻类并富集它们,然后因此产量增加。然而,这次研究人员们制造出这种气泡用了一种新的方法,耗能相对小一些,并且安装的花费也不高。该研究内容已经发表在《生物技术与生物工程》杂志上。 尽管微泡法培养可以在实验室中促进藻类生长,他们还必须使该项技术适应更大规模的生产实践才行。研究人员们正在计划对开发藻类生物能源工厂适用的一个实验项目,希望能制造出真正的绿色能源。