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Towards a better understanding of microalgae natural flocculation mechanisms to enhance flotation harvesting efficiency

Abstract : In microalgae harvesting, flocculation is usually a compulsory preliminary step to further separation by sedimentation or flotation. For some microalgae species, and under certain growth conditions, flocculation can occur naturally. Natural flocculation presents many advantages as it does not require the addition of any flocculants to the culture medium and shows high efficiency rate. But because natural flocculation is so specific to the species and conditions, and thanks to the knowledge accumulated over the last years on flocculation mechanisms, researchers have developed strategies to induce this natural harvesting. In this review, we first decipher at the molecular scale the underlying mechanisms of natural flocculation and illustrate them by selected studies from the literature. Then we describe the developed strategies to induce natural flocculation that include the use of biopolymers, chemically modified or not, or involve mixed species cultures. But all these strategies need the addition of external compounds or microorganism which can present some issues. Thus alternative directions to completely eliminate the need for an external molecule, through genetic engineering of microalgae strains, are presented and discussed in the third part of this review.
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Submitted on : Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 7:50:04 AM
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Irem Demir, Alexandre Besson, Pascal Guiraud, Cécile Formosa-Dague. Towards a better understanding of microalgae natural flocculation mechanisms to enhance flotation harvesting efficiency. Water Science and Technology, IWA Publishing, 2020, 82 (6), pp.1009 - 1024. ⟨10.2166/wst.2020.177⟩. ⟨hal-03000566⟩

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