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Swimming algae, flows & photobioreactors

Inefficiency in terms of energy, carbon emissions and/or product yield, severely limits many promising biotechnologies, including biofuel production from microscopic algae. Microalgae are cultured in ‘photobioreactors’: ponds or transparent conduits in which suspensions are flowed and grow by performing photosynthesis. Though several useful algal species swim, the design of current photobioreactors does not account for or attempt to make use of the biophysics of swimming algae.

Our group studies the fundamental mechanisms of algal swimming and response in flows, both in microfluidic and macroscopic flows. This includes the flow and growth in real  tubular photobioreactors.

Relevant publications

O. A. Croze, R. N. Bearon & M. A. Bees
Gyrotactic swimmer dispersion in pipe flow: testing the theory
J. Fluid Mech. 816, 481-506 (2017)
DOI: 10.1017/jfm.2017.90

A. Hope, O. A. Croze, W. C. K. Poon, M. A. Bees & M. D. Haw
Resonant alignment of microswimmer trajectories in oscillatory shear flows. Phys. Rev. Fluids 1, 051201(R)

M. A. Bees & O. A. Croze, Mathematics for streamlined biofuel production from unicellular algae. Biofuels 5, 53 (2014) DOI:10.4155/bfs.13.66

O. A. Croze, G. Sardina, M. Ahmed, M. A. Bees & L. Brandt, Dispersion of swimming algae in laminar and turbulent channel flows: consequences for photobioreactors. J. R. Soc. Interface 10 20121041 (2013) DOI:10.1098/rsif.2012.1041

R. N. Bearon, M. A. Bees & O. A. Croze, Biased swimming cells do not disperse in pipes as tracers: a rational population model based on microscale behaviour. Phys. Fluids 24, 121902 (2012) DOI:10.1063/1.4772189

V. Martinez, R. Besseling, O. A. Croze, … , M. A. Bees, L. G. Wilson & W. C. K. Poon, Differential Dynamic Microscopy: a high-throughput method for the characterisation of microorganisms. Biophys. J. 103 525-534 (2012) DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2012.08.045. Highlighted by Biophysical Journal as ‘Emerging Biophysical Technology’ and in a Nature Methods Research Highlight

M. D. Haw & O. A. Croze, Physics comes to life. Physics World 25 39-43 (2012) RG

O. A. Croze, E. E. Ashraf & M. A. Bees, Sheared bioconvection in a horizontal tube. Phys. Biol. 7 046001 (2010) DOI:10.1088/1478-3975/7/4/046001. Highlighted as Patterns of swimming algae in horizontal pipe flow, Physical Biology Labtalk feature (Jan 26, 2011)

M. A. Bees & O. A. Croze, Dispersion of biased swimming microorganisms in a fluid flowing through a tube. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 466, 2057-2077 (2010) DOI:10.1098/rspa.2009.0606