July 28, 2009

Algae Biofuels Measurement with Raman-Specific Spectrometer

2009-07-28 - Bay Spec, a leader in affordable spectral engines for bio-chemical identification, has shipped a Raman-specific 1064 nanometres spectrometer designed for measuring micro-Algae, a promising future source of renewable biomass oilcrop biofuels. The new Raman Spectrometer resolves fluorescence issues seen at lower wavelengths: While algal oil is similar to other vegetable oils in terms of fatty acid composition, the oil productivity of microalgae, on an annual per-acre basis, could potentially provide hundred times greater yield than soy and ten times greater yield than oil palm. Utilising the US American sensing company's Nunavut 1064 nanometres designed system, researchers were able to overcome issued with fluorescence seen at lower wavelengths.

Microalgae producing oils can be converted into biodiesel, thus promising a viable fuel to help solve the global energy crisis. However, despite the recent booming of research on microalgae, until now research has not benefited from modern high-throughput, high-resolution, real-time, and in vivo biophysical techniques.

Traditionally, these microalgae were treated in bulk, lyophilised or in extracted forms, making it impossible to assess the information on fundamental biological processes in the single-cell or sub-cellular level. Utilising the new 1064 nanometres Raman spectrometer, in situ, in vivo and label-free Raman characterisations of modelled algal lipids are made, extracted algal oil, and most importantly, single living algae. Studies have demonstrated a label-free and direct method to obtain quantitative information of chain length and degree of unsaturation of the oil produced inside algae. It also connects with the important issues of the cloud point and the quality of algal biodiesel. Single-cell, real-time, and in vivo study of algae, with various lipid-triggering mechanisms, enables the possibility of researching and engineering of the best conditions and the best species for algal growth and oil production.

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