Team from Curtin Malaysia attend workshop on microalgae technology at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s INOS

Miri – 21 November 2022 – A team from Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) comprising researchers and a postgraduate research student recently attended a Microalgae Cultivation and Applications Workshop at the Institute of Oceanography and Environment (INOS) at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT).

They comprised Associate Professor John Lau, Dr. Lau Shiew Wei and Dr. Evelyn Chiong from the Department of Chemical and Energy Engineering at Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Science and Engineering; Higher Degree by Research (HDR) student Anastasia Shera Edward; and process engineer Mary Jenny Lim from Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd., operator of the Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant at Curtin Malaysia.

Over the three-day workshop organised by UMT’s Institute of Tropical Aquaculture and Fisheries (AKUATROP), the team learned the fundamentals of microalgae research and large-scale culture and bioprocessing, in addition to gaining insights into the past and current commercial applications of microalgae technology in Malaysia and globally.

Speakers at the workshop included Prof. Yusuf Chisti, a professor in biochemical engineering at Massey University in New Zealand; Prof. Phang Siew Moi, a leading expert in algal biotechnology and professor at UCSI University, Malaysia; and Prof. Ts. Lam Su Shiung and Prof. Meisam Tabatabaei, professors in environmental technology and environmental biotechnology at AKUATROP.

Lectures and practical sessions on microalgal cultivation techniques in the laboratory were conducted by Associate Professor Derek Chan Juinn Chieh of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)

The first day of the workshop started with an introduction to microalgae and their biodiversity, and progressed to a comprehensive lecture on microalgae isolation techniques and identification. This was followed by a lecture on mass cultivation of microalgae, its ecophysiological aspects such as environmental manipulation towards influencing growth and production, and the applications of microalgae in Malaysia.

Over the next two days, the focus was on large-scale cultivation and global application of microalgae. Prof. Yusuf shared an overview of large-scale culture systems and bioprocessing, and gave a comprehensive lecture on the design of culture systems for large-scale cultivation.

Prof. Ts. Dr Lam, meanwhile, shared examples of microalgae application and AKUATROP’s current projects such as its integrated microalgae-shellfish system and the use of microalgae as biochar. The integrated microalgae-shellfish system uses microalgae for remediation of wastewater and supplement microalgae as feed in shellfish farming.

In a lecture by Prof. Meisam, who is also a collaborator for the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, further emphasis was placed on the potential contribution of microalgae application towards combating the negative effects of climate change.

The workshop concluded with a visit to the AKUATROP hatchery and microalgae laboratory.

All in the Curtin Malaysia team agreed that the workshop, which was part of an ongoing collaboration between AKUATROP and Curtin Malaysia following the signing of a Letter of Intent (LoI) signed between the two universities in June 2022, was a fruitful learning experience.

According to Assoc. Prof. John Lau, the Curtin team learned a great deal about the latest technologies in microalgae research – knowledge that would be used to strengthen Curtin Malaysia’s own research in biotechnology and bioprocess. Curtin Malaysia will also continue to collaborate with AKUATROP on sustainable and green technology research.

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Curtin researchers during session on microalgae cultivation in AQUATROP lab.

The Curtin team with workshop speaker Prof Yusuf Chisti (3rd left) from Massey University, New Zealand.

The Curtin team at AQUATROP hatchery with Prof Ts Lam Su Shiung (3rd left) and Assoc Prof Derek Chan Juinn Chieh (4th left).

Workshop participants visiting the AQUATROP hatchery.