Definition - What does Algaculture mean?

Algaculture is a type of aquatic culture that involves the farming of algae species. When algae are cultivated, they are referred to as macroalgae, microalgae, phytoplankton, microphytes, or even planktonic algae.

There are various uses for commercial and industrial uses for cultivated algae, such as the production of food ingredients like omega 3 fatty acids, natural food colorants and dyes, fertilizers, food, bioplastics, chemical feedstock (raw material), and pharmaceuticals. Algal fuel can also be used for pollution control.

Algae grow in water bodies and are green in color to produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis, just like any other green plants. Algae are of two different types: macroalgae, which are seaweeds, and microalgae, which are miniature, single-celled plants that float in the water. These can only be seen through a microscope.

MaximumYield explains Algaculture

Algaculture systems requires water, light, and nutrients to thrive. Given that a variety of algae grow in fresh water, salt water, and dirty water, water supply is easy to manage in algaculture. Sunlight is the preferred source of light because it's free, but it only reaches three or four inches into a mass of algae, so, growers must make sure that the algae is totally exposed to the light. As for nutrients, the main nutrient required for algae growth is is carbon dioxide, which can come from the air or other sources too.

There are a few ways to cultivate algaculture. Open pond systems are the simplest and cheapest way to grow algae, requiring only large and shallow ponds where the water is often divided into concentric lanes or raceways with paddle wheels to move the algae mixture in a circle.

Another option is the closed pond method, which is largely similar to the open pond system; the difference is that the water is covered by Plexiglas (raising costs), allowing greater control of the process, including eliminating contamination and extending the growing season.

Lastly, biophotoreactor is a type of algae cultivation system that is completely closed. It consists of glass or acrylic tubes through which the algae are exposed to sunlight and is the most efficient way to produce algae biomass. But, the downside is that it costs a lot to set up and operate.

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