Particle production by algae

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the use of biogenic systems, especially algae. Due to the relatively high growth rate and the cultivation methods known from biology, algae are playing an increasingly important role in various areas. In addition to biotechnological processes, where, for example, algae are seen as recombinant protein factors, and climate protection concepts, where algae are used as a biofuel source, there is also the possibility of using algae to produce particles with specific structures.

Through biomineralization, algae can form different structures depending on the species. One of the most important representatives of this group is the algae of the order Coccolithophorida, which can be used to produce inorganic structures from calcium carbonate. In this project, these mechanisms are exploited to create particles with defined microstructures. This biogenic calcium carbonate (Figure 1) can be clearly distinguished from the other particles by its complex but ordered structure. Different species of microorganisms are able to build up special structures through interactions of biomolecules and minerals.

Abbildung 1: Einzelner Coccolith

When products are manufactured using organisms, it is often the case that the desired particle or molecule is located in or on the cell. Cells and particles together with other nutrients form a suspension that requires a separation process. The aim is to produce an end product that is free of biogenic secondary material. For the selected system that generates these complex particles, the required separation step is still completely unclear. This is partly due to the fact that specially designed process variants must always be developed to separate biological material.

This research work is divided into the following topics:

  •  Cultivation process
  •  Separation process
  •  Particle characterization



Abbildung 2 REM-Aufnahme Einzelner Coccolith (SUPRA 55 VP, Zeiss)