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Cleaning microalgae with light

Sunlight can be used to decontaminate microalgae cultures.

Microalgae cultivation in an open system is always susceptible to contamination.

Sunlight can catalyse an extremely strong oxidation reaction in water when small amounts of iron and hydrogen peroxide are present. This photo-Fenton process allows sunlight to be used to decontaminate liquids and thus to destroy organic substances or kill germs. In an extensive study, as part of the Biogas2Algae project and a COST Action, the Aquaculture Systems Research Group at the ZHAW, in collaboration with the EPFL and PSI, was able to show that this process can also be used to decontaminate microalgae cultures. Within a short time, the bacterial load of a culture can be greatly reduced, while the microalgae themselves are only slightly damaged and can continue to grow. The study has been published in the Applied Catalysis B journal: