Dehydration Kinetics of the Filamentous Alga Oedogonium

Lars Bjorndal

Authors:  Lars Bjorndal, Ann C. Wilkie

Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Ann C. Wilkie

College:  College of Agricultural and Life Sciences


Algae cultivation has multiple potential applications including biofuel production, wastewater treatment, and carbon capture. However, dewatering and dehydration remain a challenge for commercialization. Research has focused mainly on microalgae, but filamentous algae have recently gained attention due to their larger size and thus relative ease of harvesting. The drying mechanics of filamentous algae has yet to be fully understood and optimized. This study investigated the drying behavior of the filamentous algae Oedogonium at 50℃, 60℃ and 70℃. The moisture content of triplicate samples of microalgae and Oedogonium (intact filaments, fractured filaments, and aggregated forms) was measured during drying. Intact Oedogonium filaments were fractured using a food blender. Results indicated little difference between drying microalgae and intact Oedogonium. At 50℃, fractured Oedogonium filaments maintained an average drying rate of -0.56±0.07% per minute for 165 minutes compared to -0.51±0.07% per minute for the microalgae and the intact and aggregated Oedogonium. However, this drying effect decreased significantly at 60℃, and at 70℃ all algae dried at similar rates. Thus, fracturing the Oedogonium filaments resulted in faster dehydration at 50℃. Reducing the duration and energy cost of drying helps to facilitate commercialization of algae cultivation.

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7 Responses
    1. Elias Naess

      Great study. I was lucky enough to get to visit the research lab where the algae were harvested, so to finally see the results of all the hard work is exciting. Well done.

  1. Katie Messer

    Your experimental set up was really well thought out! In spite of uncontrollable factors like uneven oven conditions you were able to still demonstrate a trend in drying rates. I’m excited to see if industry implements oedogonium in the future.

  2. Lars Bjorndal

    I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Ann C Wilkie, for her guidance and support. She was supportive throughout the entire project and gave me essential advice for outlining and focusing my research. By consistently encouraging independent work and high-performance Dr. Wilkie allowed me to push the limits of and improve my abilities as a researcher. I am very thankful to have been working with Dr. Wilkie as this project would not have been possible without her help.

  3. Zack Savitsky

    So glad to see how well this all came together. Such an interesting topic with very important implications for algae commercialization — an area I imagine will gain significantly more attention over the next decade. Well done, Lars.