Growing in this fashion is similar to the process of high tech bioreactors and various tube systems commonly used in the biotech industry. Researchers feed algae with CO2 from combusted exhaust emissions, a method which holds great promise for sequestering CO2 and reducing greenhouse gasses. Additional nitrogen, phosphorus, bicarbonate, trace minerals and salts must also be added also.
In the algal biotech industry, as with this experiment, a sterile environment is generally engineered to optimize growth of an algal monoculture. A closed system such as this does not risk contamination with algal spores indigenous to the region. Most often raised are specific algal varieties that are high in fat content. This is necessary to profitably yield biofuel.
The science and technology of growing algae is being heavily researched and invested in and so there will be a lot of jobs coming out of this industry in the years ahead. However, many believe that the industry’s movement towards genetically produced algae with high fat content is a mistake. If this was unleashed into the atmosphere, and it most certainly would be, the GMO algae could overwhelm naturally occurring algae. As described in this NY Times article, the threat of genetically modified algae may be detrimental to ecosystems worldwide.
Algae is the most important element in the food chain, and it can be produced in open ponds by simply adding nutrient rich waste and sunlight. In ones back yard algae can be raised at near zero cost, from worm teas, submerged decomposing organic matter, grass clippings, kudzu, grasses, clover and other high nitrogen sources such as urine and chicken manure.
From algae we get zooplankton made up of various larva, aquatic insects and animals including aquatic fleas and worms. The zooplankton follows plankton, floating together and feeding off the living and dead biomass, as do tilapia, bass, sturgeon, grass carp and even whales in the ocean. Fish fry and fingerlings live primarily off of plankton and zooplankton.
Algosolar offers education on raising these plants and animals in open ponds and in its aquaponic troughs. We will soon provide tables for calculating quantities of site derived ingredients to match your plant and fish growth needs.