Taking a Closer Look

How advanced imaging technology will play an instrumental role in algae-to-biodiesel development
By Bryan Sims | June 14, 2011

Fluid Imaging Technologies Inc. was founded in 1999 as a spinoff from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in West Boothbay Harbor, Maine. So, when FIT forged a strategic partnership with algae-to-biofuel developer Bard Holding Inc. to use its FlowCAM imaging particle analyzers for algal cell detection and classification at Bard’s commercial algae production plant in Morrisville, Pa., the venture was a natural progression.

Originally developed at Bigelow for studying plankton in ocean water, Fluid Imaging Technologies’ FlowCAM technology is designed to combine the benefits of a flow cytometer and a high-speed microscope in a single instrument, which will allow algae-to-biofuel developers like Bard to monitor nourishment levels and detect contaminants in algal cells more efficiently than traditional methods, according to Lew Brown, marketing director for Fluid Imaging Technologies.

“In algae-to-biofuels, the biggest advantage is that we can rapidly acquire lots of images of algal cells,” Brown explains. “When we acquire the image, we take up to 26 different measurements of those images looking at things like diameter, length, species and so forth. What that gives you the ability to do is, in post processing, algorithmically design filters where you tell the software to look for all the cells that look like a particular kind.”

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