We've built a traditional batch and semi-continuous batch algal production system albeit on a grand scale primarily to feed broodstock, larval and post-set eastern oysters to support the production of seed larvae thereby oyster growers and researchers in delaware bay.
In 2012, the AIC was awarded a grant from the USDA to buy a Coulter counter and a photo-bioreactor.
Coulter counters use electrical resistance to quickly and accurately determine cell counts for micro-algae cultures. Day-to-day, this information is used to determine culture density thereby feeding volumes for the animals we are growing. It can also be used to support research and development, for example, in creating new shellfish diets, and to develop novel uses for the bio-chemicals that micro-algae produce.
Photo-bioreactors provide optimum conditions for the growth of micro-algae, for light, CO2, nutrients and temperature. With our traditional culture methods, we can produce 200-L of C-Iso at a density of ~6 million cells per mL once per week. The Brite Box photo-bioreactor (photo left), can produce 200-L at a density of 40 million cells per mL, twice a week, which is 130 times the traditional method. This will allow us to produce biomass in the amounts needed by natural products chemists who are looking to develop high-value products from the bio-chemicals that micro-algae produce.
Micro-algae are photosynthetic and form the base of the food chain in the marine environment and here at the AIC. They have several survival strategies to overcome being grazed out of existence; one is to simply out-grow the grazing to which they are subjected. These kinds of algae are good food species. We grow a variety of commonly cultured species of different sizes and biochemical composition.