Thursday, February 19, 2009

Who knows Algae can save the world.

Prof Avigad Vonshak from Israel inaugurates International Symposium on Phycology at BITS Pilani Rajasthan
Science & Education
Press release from: BITS Pilani

Phycology is the study of algae, a ubiquitous and extremely important range of species ecologically because of the dependence of other species on their primary production.

Algae is a plant that can range from a small single-celled form to more intricate multi-cellular forms. They are photosynthetic organisms and exist in a wide variety of habitats. While most people associate this organism with water, algae can also occupy desert sands. Fossil records have dated it back approximately 3 billion years. Algae have found applications in many areas including agriculture, aquaculture, environmental protection and management and as functional foods and pharmaceuticals.

Algae is capable of converting carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, into a vegetable oil which experts feel can be economically turned into biodiesel. Algae multiplies so quickly and produces so much oxygen that it could reverse the "Carbon Dioxide Problem.”

It is said that Algae can produce 378,540 litres of oil an acre (0.4ha) annually, compared with about 190 litres per 0.4ha for soybeans. Algae doesn't need prime farmland, vast quantities of fertilizer, or large harvest vehicles and the single-celled organisms, which are among the world's fastest growing plants, can prosper in small bags of water under the light of greenhouses.

A microscopic green algae -- known to scientists as Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and to regular folk as pond scum is said to be capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen under controlled conditions and thus hold the magic wand for power plants of the future.

The global political consensus on the importance and necessity of biodiversity research for environmental research and management has grown immensely during the last years. Keeping this in mind, an International Symposium on Applied Phycology and Environmental Biotechnology (ISAPEB-2007) has been organized during October 29 – 31, 2007 at Pilani by the Biological Sciences Group and Centre for Desert Development Technologies from Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS) Pilani-333 031, Rajasthan, India in Collaboration with The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR) Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev, Israel.

The main aim of this symposium is to bring together multidisciplinary researchers around the world in the area of algal biology/biotechnology and to disseminate information on latest technologies in mass cultivation and industrial applications of algae. This event sponsored by UGC, CSIR and DBT has over 70 participants from India, UAE, Israel, Italy and France.

On October 29th in a colorful function in the Lecture Theatre Complex of BITS Pilani, Chief Guest Prof Avigad Vonshak Director BIDR, Israel inaugurated the symposium. In his key note address, Prof Avigad spoke on various aspects of bench scale to commercial scale mass cultivation of Spirulina which contains billions of years of evolutionary wisdom in its DNA and is an offspring of earth’s first photosynthetic life forms.

Who knows Algae could be holding the key to save the world at large.

Dr BR Natarajan
Professor & Dean
Birla Institute of Technology and Science
Pilani (Rajasthan) 333031 India
Phone 91-1596-242210
Fax 91-1596-244183

Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani Rajasthan which has set a bench mark in industry university collaboration is one among the top ranking universities in India today offering degrees in various disciplines presently at Pilani, Dubai, Goa campuses and in the near future at Hyderabad campus apart from an array of work integrated learning programmes for HRD of a vast spectrum of Indian corporates.

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