UAE researchers report desert algae discovery

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In the United Arab Emirates, researchers have engineered a new microalgae that can grow in deserts, creating a production source for biofuels, biobased products, and animal feed on otherwise unproductive agricultural land.

Using diatoms, a type of microscopic algae, the scientists from New York University Abu Dhabi and UAE University were able to develop a strain that was resistant to the otherwise harmful bright lights of desert environments. Diatoms are also marine algae, meaning freshwater scarcity would not be an encumbrance.

“With this technology, algae can be grown in photo-bioreactors at a higher density and a faster pace, reducing cost and speeding up production,” Weiqi Fu, PhD, a Research Scientist at NYU Abu Dhabi and the lead researcher of the study, tells Business Green.