An Australian team of researchers has discovered a way to convert algae into pet food using a novel process that has the potential to revolutionise the industry.
Key points:The algae was grown on a ‘zero waste’ basisThe process used to create the food, which has been dubbed the “Algae Fuel” process, is already being used by farmers in South Australia and New South Wales for livestock feedThe new algae process, which is being developed by a team at the University of Western Australia, could lead to a more sustainable and more sustainable way to grow foodA study from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences found that the algae could be converted into food using the same algae that’s already been used to grow fish and feed livestock.
The algae, which can grow in water up to 10 times the size of a football field, can be harvested in just a few days and is currently used to make fish feed.
It is the first time that algae has been used as an alternative to fossil fuels, and it could potentially revolutionise pet biofuels in the future.
“The idea is that the carbon content of the algae in the water can be used to convert to methane, a greenhouse gas,” Professor Mark McInnes, from the Department of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, said.
“It’s the first step in a new type of process where we can grow a whole new class of food that’s based on algae.”
He said the algae was also being used to generate a biofuel, which could be used in the pet food industry.
“This algae is a renewable fuel, and there are plenty of examples of algae being used in that type of project,” Professor McInne said.
The new process, called the “Zero Waste Algae Biofuel” process and first described in a paper published in Nature Communications, uses algae grown on an agro-industrial system to create a biomass that can be turned into food.
Professor McInnsons team first used the process to grow algae on the algae farm at the Adelaide Agricultural University.
“I was surprised that it turned out to be very fast,” he said.”[It] used a lot less water than we expected.”
The algae is then cut into tiny cubes and put into an industrial compost heap, where it is mixed with water.
The process is a unique method that uses the carbon of the waste product to create an algae feed.
Professor Minsnes said that when the algae is harvested, the algae feed is converted into a liquid called “methanol” and is then pumped into an irrigation system to be converted back into fuel.
“In terms of its energy, it’s not quite as efficient as what’s currently being done, but it’s still more efficient than what we’re used to in terms of converting biomass into biofuel,” he explained.
“When we take the algae and convert it back into food, that’s a whole different set of problems that we have to solve.”
For example, we have a problem of nutrient cycling, where you’re basically using the nutrients that are left in the feed and turning them into something that’s useful, and you need to get the right amount of nutrients in.
“Dr Ross Bowers, from The University of Adelaide, said the process would allow the algae to be grown in a number of different ways.”
We can use the algae as a feedstock, which means it can be fed to animals, so that we can feed animals with it as a bioenergy source, or as a food source,” he told ABC Rural.”
But we also can use it to grow plants, which would be great for growing crops that we know have a high yield and are very nutritious.
“All of these different uses are all possible, and all of these other types of uses will come into play.”
What’s interesting about this process is that it’s already being developed in other places.
“Dr Bowers said the research was based on using the algae for a wide range of different crops.”
There’s no question about it, this is a promising process,” he added.”
And it’s something that could be rolled out all over Australia.
“Professor McIngnes said there were a number challenges with using the process in a commercially viable way.”
Some of the problems are that you need a lot of space for the algae,” he noted.”
That’s because it’s growing on a huge scale.
“If we could just grow the algae locally, it would be a lot more economical.”
He added that there were concerns that algae could leach methane from the water.
“Most algae are very good at removing carbon from the environment, but methane has a much lower atmospheric concentration than CO2, so we’ve got a lot to work out,” he suggested.
“Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, so it can get into the environment from things like agricultural land,