Iowa State University’s new algae production facility built by BioCentury Research Farm in Boone, uses an innovative biofilm-based cultivation system designed by Martin Gross, a graduate assistant in agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Zhiyou Wen, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition. The system avoids the typically lengthy and expensive cultivation process by allowing for easy separation of algae by passing a cotton-based biofilm through nutrient-rich water, then scraping the algae off.
The facility uses a pair of ponds shaped like raceways, or lazy rivers, to allow the water to move with a gentle current. They also have four 200-liter flat panel bioreactors, a more popular algae-growth model. According to Mr. Gross, the facility can produce up to 4.5 kilograms of algae per week.