Professor Alison Smith (Department of Plant Sciences) and her colleagues, Dr Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley and Dr Matt Davey, have a long running project to explore the potential use of algae to produce biofuels, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and providing sustainable and renewable energy.
The Botanic Garden has provided space in a frost-free horticultural polytunnel for the erection of a new algae growth facility co-funded by the INTERREG NW Europe strategic initiative 'EnAlgae' (www.enalgae.eu), and run in partnership with InCrops. The facility is part of a network of pilot plants across NW Europe, where different algal species are being grown to establish what role algae can play in the development of a low carbon economy.
The facility was opened on 2 September 2013, at the annual Algae Symposium being held at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge, followed on 3 September by an industry-focussed seminar on challenges and opportunities for algae in food and feed sector.
The facility showcases a 6m long photobioreactor with patented low energy design by Steve Skill, EnAlgae collaborator. The reactor has a capacity of 300L, and will be used to test the growth of a variety of commercially promising algal strains, as well as for outreach activities to industry and schools.