Alga-CultureA Solution for Power, Poverty and Pollution Presented by Mr. GNS PATNAIK Founder- President Anand Bharthi Foundation
ContentsWhat is Alga-Culture?What are its applications?What are its benefits?Present scenario in India.Problems.Actions.
What is Alga-Culture?Alga-culture is a form of aquaculture in which different species of algaeare grown.Algae are simple autotrophic organisms that grow in fresh waters as wellas marine waters. There are more than 5000 species of algae like greenalgae, red algae, brown algae etc. The algae range is large and diversethat varies from unicellular to multi-cellular forms, micro algae to macroalgae, simple forms to most complex marine forms called sea-weeds
The culture…Algae can be grown in..1.Fresh water2.Salt waterAlga-Culture may be done as..1.Mono-Culture (Single species)2.Multi-Culture (Different species)Alga-culture can be done in following methods..1.Open-Ponds2.Raceways3.Photo bio-reactors4.Plastic membranes
While the simplest and cheapest of above is open-pond system, it is prone to contamination and subject to weather. More scientific methods may be adopted as is economical for given product specifications, desired quality and quantity. Process details discussed separately.
Alga-Culture has a lot of importance given its wide range ofapplications and benefits.Commercial Applications of algae: Consumer Goods Health & Nutrition Fuels Industrial applications Agriculture Power Generation
Social Benefits of Alga-Culture:Not withstanding diverse applications and commercial uses ofalgae, the alga-culture also offers following social benefits. Pollution Control Poverty alleviation
Applications of algae:Consumer Goods : Tooth paste, Ice creams, Cosmetics, Chocolates, Cool drinks, Jam, Jellyand many other processed foods. Health & Nutrition : a) Medicines for cancer, heart diseases, tumors, ageing, skin diseases etc. b) Nutritional Supplements Fuels: Bio-diesel (ethanol & methanol) can be produced from algae.
Applications of algae ( Contd.): Industrial applications: Algae products find use in packaging, plywood, sanitary napkins, tissue papers, leather industry etc. Agriculture: Algae in various forms can be used as organic fertilizers, soil conditioners, poultry feed and cattle feed. Even humans can consume certain species of algae raw or processed. Power Generation: Algal bio-mass can be used in power generation industry.
Alga-Culture offers a solution for power shortage: While most of the electrical power produced is from the conventionalsources like hydel, thermal, nuclear etc., developing economies haverecognized the need and importance of non-convention, renewable energysources. Algal bio-mass the product of alga-culture is a potential source ofrenewable energy.
Alga-Culture offers a solution for power shortage: Algal bio-mass can be used for power generation in following ways:1.Direct Combustion (Solid): Algal bio-mass can be used to run generatorturbines in bio-mass power plants by generating heat through direct combustion.2.Bio-fuels (Liquid): The bio-diesel extracted from algae can be used to rundiesel-generator sets.3.Bio-gas: Through fermentation / anaerobic digestion process bio-gas can beproduced from algae and used in combined heat and power plants.
Social Benefits of Alga-Culture: Pollution Control : 1. Water Pollution: Algae while growing in water absorb poisonous chemicals like phosphorus & nitrogen from agriculture run-off, and other chemicals for sewage waters and industrial effluents. 2. Air Pollution : Algae has great potential for green house gas abatement. It absorbs more quantity of carbon-dioxide from air than absorbed by terrestrial plants and trees during photosynthesis.
Social Benefits of Alga-Culture: Poverty alleviation: Poor people can be provided an opportunity to overcome their poverty bygaining handful income through alga-culture. The open-pond cultivation is very simple and cheap such that people caneasily adopt and practice. They need not own lands. They can resort tocultivation in sea. Plenty of water is available. Market is also large. Hence, this low-tech, low-cost option can chosen for employment whichalleviates poverty among uneducated, unskilled labor.
Its time for us to examine..Present scenario in India.Problems.Actions.
Present scenario in IndiaAlga-culture is extensively practiced in foreign countries.It is a billion dollar industry there.For instance, over 10000 families are employed in this field inPhilippines alone.In India the picture is completely different.India has a large coastal belt and a potential to produce 10lakhs tonsof algal bio-mass per year employing around 2lakhs people. But herethe commercial production has not yet begun is sufficient volume asagainst its capacity.People like Dr. Deenabandu Sahoo, a research scientist and Professorin Botany are promoting alga culture by propagating its importance inthe context of generating income to poor people.A few self help groups are cultivating algae at Chilika, but not incommercial scale.
There are problems.1.Most people are ignorant about the size and scale of opportunities inalga-culture industry.2.The financiers and bankers are not aware of this industry and hencedo not provide financial assistance easily.3. Production quality and quantity in open pond method is subject toenvironmental conditions.4. There is no sufficient infrastructure to adopt and practice commercialmethods of production.5. There are no capacity building attempts in the context of large scalealga-culture, and value-addition6. There are no processing units in access to marginal producers.
We need actions..1. More scientific & commercial procedures need to be adopted toachieve higher volumes of output.2. Organizational back up is needed to effectively manage supply chain.3. More investments are needed to expand the culture and harness thepotential to its maximum.4. Greater efforts are needed to train and induct people in to this field.5. Sufficient infra is to be created to protect the crop against odd weatherconditions.6. Social entrepreneurs who are willing to take up this job are to beencouraged and supported to extend the benefits to more & more peoplein the society.
ConclusionThere is a huge scope for development of Alga-Culture in India, given thepresence of long coastal belt.This inherently brings with it ample employment opportunities benefitingmany of the unprivileged people in rural areas. This boosts the ruraleconomy with its commercial uses, and benefits society in the context offighting air and water pollution. Peak season power demands can be metdeveloping algal bio-mass power plants.Therefore, it is strongly recommended that alga-culture is practiced incommercial scale to reap its benefits to the society.