Pond slime to the rescue: Using algae to capture CO2

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Plant Sciences

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.
 
Description Business Interaction Voucher
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Funding ID PHYCBIV-23 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Department Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB)
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 10/2018
 
Description Authentic Biology Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The Authentic Biology programme, funded by the Wellcome Trust, enables post 16 students to carry out real research in their schools. They then get to present their work at the symposium in London. I was invited to speak to them about my work on algal bioenergy, and then to engage with them about studying science at university. Several of the students (the majority from state schools) were encouraged to make applications to Oxbridge as a result.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.authentic-biology.org/
 
Description BBC Radio 4 Frontiers - What ever happened to biofuels? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was one of 4 invited participants in this programme, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and available as a podcast. I had many emails and contacts from the wider public, including at the Festival of Plants exhibit, generally indicating that this had increased people's awareness of the possibility to use solar energy with algae, not just for biofuels, but also for other 'green tech'. Their attitude to biofuels per se was also more positive.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b02ykygv
 
Description Festival of Plants, Botanical Garden, Cambridge 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Exhibit at the Festival of Plants (was called Fascination of Plants in 2012) in Cambridge University Botanic Garden. It provided basic information about algae, showcased our scientific work, and then explained how we were using this in collaboration with companies to carry out remeidation of waste water. There were activities such as viewing microalgae with microscopes and observing algae phototaxis. Children could handcraft their own algae using pipe cleaners or take part in an interactive algae quiz to win prices. Several members of the public asked for additional information.

Interest from several visitors about how to incorporate algal growth in their activities, eg anaerobic digestion or green energy generally
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/Botanic/Event.aspx?p=27&ix=351&pid=2718&prcid=0&ppid=2718
 
Description IntoBiology resource 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A final year undergraduate student in Plant Sciences produced a webpage describing work on algae in Plant Sciences and Biochemistry. The webpage is part of the programme established by IntoBiology, aimed at encouraging school children to consider studying plant biology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://intobiology.org.uk/unlocking-the-potential-of-algae-how-the-green-stuff-in-your-pond-might-go...
 
Description Pint of Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I presented a talk on the potential uses of algae for bioenergy production as part of the Pint of Science festival in Cambridge, where scientists engage with people having a drink in a local pub. This takes place in London, Cambridge, Bristol and other university towns each year. As result of my talk and questions afterwards, although most people were not aware initially what algae were, nor how they could be used to generate energy, their opinions became more positive and optimistic towards biofuels generally. Pint of Science was awarded "Points of Light" by the Prime Minister David Cameron in November 2015 and the founders were interviewed about it on London Live TV.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
URL https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pint_of_Science
 
Description Science on Saturday, part of SET week in Cambridge 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We had a stand in the science tent outside Dept of Plant Sciences. We demonstrated what algae are, what we use for now and how they might be used in the future for energy production. There were activities such as viewing microalgae with microscopes, extracting different light-harvesting pigments, and observing algae phototaxis. Children could handcraft their own algae using pipe cleaners or take part in an interactive algae quiz to win prices.

School asked for visit to talk to years 10-13.

Established the material to mount a Royal Society Summer Science Exhibit
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2008,2015,2016
 
Description Science on Sunday 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An exhibit showcasing the biology, diversity and uses of algae, with hands on activities for children and adults. Taking advantage of a 3-D printed microscope it was possible to engage people in (a) microscopic world (b) characteristics of algae and (c) use of 3-D printing. Children often could relate the hands-on activities as related to their Science Week in school the previous week. Adults reported feeling more informed about subjects that they had heard of (eg aquatic food chains, bioenergy) but did not have good grasp of the details.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/Botanic/NewsItem.aspx?p=27&ix=196
 
Description Science on Sundays 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Short talk and Q&A on the nature of algae and how their characteristics could be used for sustainable energy, water remediation, or other green tech solutions. Held in the Cambridge Botanic Garden, the audience were interested in plants, and so this was an opportunity to provide information on what algae are, and how they might be used in novel ways. The audience fed back that they felt much better informed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/Botanic/NewsItem.aspx?p=27&ix=196
 
Description Science with Impact at SEB annual meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited to present overview of using algae to capture CO2 and generate energy in "Science with Impact" session at Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) annual conference in Prague. Media interest on this session at the time, and session report published in SEB magazine (Autumn 2015, pp 50-51), prompting requests from schools and other science engagement organisations to speak.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.sebiology.org/meetings/Past_Meetings/Prague2015/education.html
 
Description The Life Scientific on BBC Radio 4 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was interviewed by Jim Al-Khalili about my scientific career and interest in algae and vitamins. The programme "The Life Scientific" was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and was also available on BBC iPlayer and as a podcast. As a result I have had numerous contacts about possible scientific and industrial collaborations, as well as enquiries from the general public about the various topics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08bzl8y