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Algal Innovation Centre Cambridge

There is increasing interest in the exploitation of microalgae as a sustainable feedstock for a variety of products (such as diesel, omega-3 oils, pigments, enzymes) to replace those currently sourced from fossil oil and gas, crop plants and animals.

The Algal Innovation Centre will address the requirement for scale-up and pilot facilities to enable translation of fundamental research and showcase technologies.

It will connect the entire pipeline of algal research from strain selection and improvement, through harvesting and processing, to development of underpinning technology/engineering solutions.

This unique Centre will also meet a wider UK need; as a result of a national consultation, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has identified a need for an algal Centre of Excellence with test and scale-up facilities.

This plot has been identified within the Botanic Garden, adjacent to the existing Plant Growth Facility, for a dedicated glass house for algal innovation experiments.

The facility is built in a freestanding aluminium cladding system on a concrete foundation and will have a gross floor area of 164m².

The project cost around £500k, and was funded by the Department of Plant Sciences and the School of the Biological Sciences.

The funding also included an award of £188,600 from the European Union’s INTERREG EnAlgae project which aims to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in North West Europe by developing algal biofuel technologies.


Contact Dr Matthew Davey, Department of Plant Sciences, for more information.


Polar Algae

Polar species of algae are being studied for their cold adaptive properties for use in bioenergy and high value production.

Using cold adapted species collected in Rothera research station at the BAS base in Antarctica, Dr Matthew Davey, a Senior Research Associate at the Department of Plant Sciences, is studying a change in colour (green to red) that occurs in algae when exposed to variation in environmental factors to understand which metabolic differences trigger the red phase.

Phytofutures team explain their polar algae research: looking at how polar algae which are adapted for growth in cold climate acclimatize to growth in temperate regions.

The University researchers from many disciplines work on algae, in departments including Architecture, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Chemistry, Engineering, and Plant Sciences.