Project period: October 2014 – April 2015
This project has been developed from the Initiator funded Algal Valorisation and Remediation of Acid Mine Drainage community.
GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Christopher Chuck
University of Bristol: Tom Scott
Cardiff University: Devin Sapsford
University of Exeter: Chris Bryan
Plymouth Marine Laboratory: Mike Allen
Our aim was to investigate the use of algae native to contaminated mine sites to remove metals from acid mine drainage (AMD) and then convert the algae to biofuels. This would remediate the water while simultaneously providing a sustainable source of value products. The overall idea is that AMD costs significant sums of money to treat: the AVaRICE process would not only treat the water but would also create valuable products (biofuels and recovered metals) to offset the treatment costs – literally and figuratively a green technology.
The key objectives were:
- To what extent can algae grow (produce biomass) and remediate (remove metals) the AMD from the former Wheal Jane tin mine?
- What metals are found in the Wheal Jane AMD and in what quantities?
- What valuable products can be produced from the algal biomass?
The core objectives have been met with algal cultivation completed at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and DNA harvested from both Wheal Maid and Wheal Jane water samples processed. Next-generation sequencing analysis is underway, and extensive HTL test work has been completed. Additional work was undertaken on investigating the off-line growth of algal biomass, and adsorption and desorption of zinc.
There has been significant national and international interest from the media, industrial and academic partners. We have been invited by Shanks/REYM based in the Netherlands to visit their facilities and explore future collaborations. We are also looking at UK-USA collaborative links with Arizona State University.
Numerous papers and grant applications have been completed or are in progress, this includes an expression of interest for the Innovate UK Biotechnology Catalyst Early Stage Translation call.
As the community has grown, partners have joined together to pursue common interests allied to or outside of the AVaRICE concept, leading to many other joint research avenues.
Little of what has been achieved, could have been done by a single group or institution. Huge progress towards proving the concept of the AVaRICE process has been made, and the community is highly motivated and determined to pursue the development of AVaRICE further.