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Researchers grow algae in poultry houses, December 7th

The microorganism that colors ponds and lakes green could become an important partner in the future of poultry operations through a project conducted by ISU researchers

Poultry manure generates ammonia, which Hongwei Xin, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, said presents a challenge concerning the health and safety of the animals and workers.
- When ammonia exceeds levels of 25 parts per million or higher ... [the gas] begins to cause respiratory health issues, Xin said. [Ammonia] is an irritant and has a sharp, pungent odor. When inhaled, the eyes will water and [the gas] could burn the eyes of animals and humans.
Juhyon Kang, graduate research assistant in food science and human nutrition, said the exhaust air exiting the buildings could also have a negative impact on the environment.
In order to limit the ammonia released from poultry operations and prevent algae growth in unwanted areas, a project team including Kang and Xin works together to design and develop a bioreactor that will filter ammonia out of the exhaust air in poultry houses while utilizing the gas to grow algae into a useful product in a controlled environment.
The cultivated algae could provide a source of biomass for biofuel production, as well as an additive for animal feed. Kang said an algal bioreactor is also beneficial for the environment because it filters potentially harmful gases, such as ammonia and carbon dioxide from air exhaust exiting the poultry houses.


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