UBC Green Joule had a great experience sharing their research goal in promoting sustainability of microalgae biofuels to the Weather Network. The Co-Captains of Green Joule, Montserrat del Toro (CHBE) and Daniel Ma (CIVIL), along with Dr. Gabriel Potvin from the Chemical and Biological Engineering department were interviewed in the lab by Mia Gordon, the videographer of the Weather Network.
During the interview, Green Joule mentioned that due to the rapid growth rate and renewable attributes, microalgae used in the production of biofuels has the potential to be a promising solution in satisfying future energy needs. Microalgae can also be used to capture CO2 emissions from power plants, and can be used in wastewater treatment to remove toxic components. The team is currently experimenting with replicating techniques reported in literature with hopes of combining the different uses of microalgae to maximize production. Their goal is to contribute to the current academia regarding different growth, extraction, and monitoring conditions, and to look at these processes from a sustainability perspective to determine their impact on the environment and the society.
Each step of the production process comes with it’s challenges. Green Joule has devoted many months in finding the right algae strain, optimum nutrient levels and water parameters, and the best bioreactor to carry out the production process. Their next step is to translate the current production process to a larger scale. As brought up by Dr. Potvin in the interview, the cost of production sets a big limitation surrounding the use of algae biofuels. Green Joule is working on optimizing each step in the production process to eventually offset the production cost of algae biofuels. Their idea of combining different uses of microalgae can further optimize the production process by maximizing the number of products.
Despite the obstacles they have encountered this year due to COVID-19, the team of 25 devoted students still persevered to do excellent work and achieve amazing results. Envision wishes Green Joule a successful and fruitful year ahead with their projects.
The complete interview can be found here.