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Textile-based cyanobacteria biocomposites for potential environmental remediation applications

Lookup NU author(s): Rachel Hart, Warm In-Na, Dr Maxim KapralovORCiD, Dr Jonathan LeeORCiD, Dr Gary Caldwell



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Microalgae and cyanobacteria are effective platforms for environmental remediation (phycoremediation), particularly of air and water. There is limited scope to deploy suspension cultures due to space, cost and maintenance challenges—driving an imperative towards biofilm-based treatment systems; however, these systems are ill-equipped for rapid and mobile deployment. In this study, we explored the main technical challenges to developing cheap, accessible and low maintenance engineered biofilm systems (biocomposites) comprising cyanobacteria (Synechococcus elongatus) immobilised to a range of textiles (n = 4) by natural or synthetic latex binders (n = 16), chitosan or shellac. Biocomposite viability (measured as net CO2 uptake) was assessed over 20 days in semi-batch trials. No maintenance was required during this period as the humidity within the reactor was sufficient to support metabolism. Two commercial natural latex binders (AURO 320 and 321) supported strong growth within the biocomposite, outperforming suspension controls. There was variation in textiles performance, with an 80/20 polyester-cotton blend performing most consistently. Biocomposite formulation was varied in terms of binder solids content and cell loading rate, with 5% solids and 2.5% cell loading the most effective combination. We demonstrate the technical feasibility of fabricating functional textile-based cyanobacteria biocomposites and discuss this within the context of developing decentralised wastewater treatment services.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hart R, In-na P, Kapralov MV, Lee JGM, Caldwell GS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Applied Phycology

Year: 2021

Volume: 33

Pages: 1525-1540

Print publication date: 01/06/2021

Online publication date: 24/02/2021

Acceptance date: 01/02/2021

Date deposited: 29/01/2021

ISSN (print): 0921-8971

ISSN (electronic): 1573-5176

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s10811-021-02410-6


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