Microalgae Project (Production and development of microalgal cultures to capture carbon dioxide and to produce biofuels)
Subproject for the Creation and Consolidation of a National Algae Bank and its associated services, such as a national service for the study, bioprospection and preservation of germplasm and for the promotion of bioindustries.
1.- General description, objectives and structure of the subproject. Creation of a National Algae Bank (BEA), an initiative that will provide a national service for the study and preservation of germplasm and support bioindustries based on microalgae (eukaryotic and prokaryotic). The BEA, in turn, hopes to integrate national and international facilities, materials and scientists to develop its own bank by consolidating existing joint projects or through institutional agreements. In short, the BEAās mission will be to assist in solving and promoting the complexities involved in starting these technologies so as to pave the way for biocompanies.
2.- Creation of the National Algae Bank (BEA). The goal of this subproject is, as noted earlier, the creation and consolidation of a National Microalgae Bank and of its associated services into a national service for the study, bioprospection and preservation of germplasm and as a key instrument for promoting bioindustries.
Specifically, the objectives proposed are:
- To consolidate the National Algae Bank (BEA) currently in place at the University of Las Palmas of Gran Canaria (ULPGC) as an International Microorganism Depositary Authority for patent purposes pursuant to the Budapest Treaty, and intended for the bioprospection, isolation, identification and preservation of microalgae, especially from extreme, subtropical, tropical, marine and Macaronesian environments.
- To support the other subprojects of the Microalgae Project by supplying species.
- To facilitate the development of microalgae-based bioindustries, especially those involving biorefineries, biofuels, biofiltration of CO2 and of desalination plant effluent and for climate bioregulation (environmental bioengineering).
The BEA is a National Microalgae Biotechnology Laboratory of a global, open and inclusive nature that allows for the technical and efficient coordination of scientists, public institutions and companies in the task of isolating, preserving and prospecting microalgae for the purposes of permitting the development of scientific and industrial initiatives involving the cultivation of microalgae, and specifically, those related to the production of biofuels and the capture of CO2.
The BEA model that we hope to develop is based on the āapplied modelā that was recently implemented in the historic microalgae collection at UTEX (Microalgae Bank of the University of Texas, USA). Likewise, and due to the wealth of extremophiles that we hope to have available, we must apply criteria from the CCMEE (Culture Collection of Microorganisms from Extreme Environments) model at the University of Oregon and funded by NASA.
With the current UTEX model as its general framework, and since Spain still lacks experience and microalgae and halophyte biotechnology firms, the BEA must place special emphasis on the facets recently added to complement those present in a conventional germplasm bank (isolation, identification and preservation) by including the following aspects:
- To address and promote the complex start-up of these technologies so as to pave the way for biocompanies. The tasks to be performed should not adhere exclusively to those traditionally involved with in vitro preservation, but must also include data from culture technology (at least on a laboratory scale) under actual and optimal environmental culture conditions (solar irradiation), such as: growth rates, optimal densities, inoculation densities, etc.
- To consult on culture techniques and industrial applications and reorient certain unrealistic business initiatives that have emerged from these biotechnologies.
- To train specialists in microalgal applications.
This BEA subproject will be overseen jointly by the InstitutoEspaĆ±ol de OceanografĆa, the AgenciaCanaria de InvestigaciĆ³n, InnovaciĆ³n y Sociedad de la InformaciĆ³n and the ULPGCby way of a partnership agreement to be signed for this purpose.
The subproject will be managed by a Steering Committee with representatives from the institutions involved. A Scientific Committee will be created that includes renowned researchers from every Spanish institution.