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Attendees explore algae growth and production at spring ATP3 training

Participants gathered for a week-long workshop at the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus Feb. 24-28 to learn about the diversity of microalgae and the common analytical methods for the evaluation of microalgal biomass. The Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP³) held the “Routine Measurement and Biochemical Analysis of Microalgal Cultures” at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) to explore aspects of growing microalgae at the laboratory and pre-commercial scale, as well as biochemical analysis of the biomass produced. All lecture and laboratory activities were conducted by trained algae experts, biochemists and engineers who were excited to facilitate the workshop.

“Our workshop forums provide an incredible learning environment and networking opportunity for the participants and instructors,”said Dr. Thomas Dempster, the site coordinator for ATP³ and one of the workshop instructors. “With representation from academia, industry and interested individuals, everyone brings a unique perspective to the table.”

Some of the field training included sample collection and handling techniques from ponds and photobioreactors. Participants also had the opportunity to work in the laboratory learning how to measure culture density (cell counting and optical density), observe algae using compound light and fluorescence microcopy, perform gravimetric analyses (wet weight, dry weight, ash-free dry weight, ash and moisture content), and techniques for the measurement of bulk proteins, starch, carbohydrates and lipids.

Sarah Arrowsmith, an assistant research technician with ATP³ commented on how she felt the workshop went. “Excellent, [it] went very smoothly,” she said. “We had a great group of people.”

“I loved it,” said Mike Steevens from Baker Hughes. “Identifying healthy algae is very important for my job. This workshop taught me what to look for.”

Manikandadas Madathi, who works for Heliae, said that his favorite part of the workshop was refreshing his memory about carbohydrates. He was excited to learn about the process of breaking down compounds. He explained that his job is to analyze the final breakdown of a compound before it can be made into a product.

“It is good to know how the compound got to its current condition,” Madathi said.
Since both men have a background in algae, Steevens and Madathi say they plan to apply their new knowledge when they return to work by developing better products.

ATP3 offers superior formal and informal education and training in the use of microalgae as feedstock for biofuels and coproducts, through hands-on learning opportunities, workshops, and seminars held at ATP3 partner sites and selected public events. For more, visit at3.org/education-and-training.

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Workshop participants, AzCATI staff and instructors clockwise from bottom left: Sarah Arrowsmith, Karin Hastings, Schonna Manning, Milton Sommerfeld, Thomas Dempster, Mike Steevens, Dave Cardello, Manuel Sacristán, Matthew Foster, Taieb Nemissi, Sara Debray, Manikandadas Madathi, Terri Belisle, and Jordan McAllister.
Matthew Foster and Karin Hastings analyze strains of algae.