Microalgal biomass production in testbeds using wastewater in Mexico

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In June 2016, Thomas Dempster, Research Professor and Laboratory Manager for the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI), traveled to Queretaro, Mexico to install the two open-raceway ponds at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) Institute of Engineering. These two ponds would support microalgal biomass production in testbeds using wastewater. Through this new installation in Mexico, results can be analyzed and compared between the AzCATI ponds in Arizona using the same strain and under the same conditions. Both universities will research and measure bioremediation – the reduction of nitrates, phosphates and heavy metals from municipal and industrial wastewaters – as the primary sources of culture media. One month prior to the installation of ponds in Mexico, Professor Dempster had the opportunity to instruct a group of 20 UNAM graduate students for a week through a series of lectures and discussions covering products and applications of microalgae, strain isolation and maintenance, large and small-scale cultivation and downstream processing of biomass. "Providing algae-related training to such a diverse group of researchers led to the exchange of great ideas. Our Mexican collaborators brought different perspectives to the table, leading me to think outside of the box regarding wastewater bioremediation." – Tom Dempster Through this on-going partnership, UNAM personnel have visited AzCATI for formal training on standardized productivity and biochemical measurement procedures for the Queretaro site. They also learned how to operate, sample from and monitor open raceway ponds while at AzCATI. In addition, the UNAM team has received training on conducting microscopic observations and enumeration of contaminants, as well as on pond sampling and operation procedures. Since the completion of the two open-raceway ponds at the UNAM Queretaro site, the UNAM researchers were trained on pond system maintenance and operation with the software used to monitor pond culture conditions. Currently, experimental design and planning for parallel cultivation trials between UNAM and AzCATI are in progress. Please visit our website for more information.