Over the past year the EU Interreg NWE funded ALG-AD project has offered placements to three students under the Erasmus student exchange programme.
The Erasmus programme is designed to enable students to gain valuable international experience, either by studying part of their degree abroad, or undertaking a work placement.
Yoan Lessing from France, Sandra Dukič from Slovenia and Jose Ignacio from Spain have all spent varying amounts of time working on the project over the last year.
“I was looking for an internship in the field of the use of microalgae and one day I found the project on a website and sent a message on it,” said Yoan. “A few days later, I received an answer from Dr Carole Llewellyn, who gave me an internship opportunity.
“I found it really interesting to use wastewater to produce biomass and then use this biomass for different purposes. Producing something such as microalgae, which have so much potential in terms of their proteins, lipids, pigments and so on, from waste is really interesting and is why I wanted to get involved on the project.”
Yoan spent six months in total working on the project. He was joined at the same time by Sandra, who wanted to learn more about how to work with microalgae.
“I carried out 3 small-scale laboratory experiments in 1L flasks in order to compare the growth of 2 different species in food waste digestate, using Chlorella vulgaris and Scenedesmus obliquus. I used the acquired data in my master thesis project.
“I felt very accomplished each time after I finished my experimental work. I am also extremely happy I got to work with precise laboratory equipment.”
For Jose, the experience has been a tremendous opportunity to learn
He said: “From this experience I obtained everything, from having my first direct contact with microalgae cultivation, learning to handle different types of bioreactors. I have been given the opportunity to explore my skills for microalgae cultivation, learning different methodologies and how to manage new laboratory machinery, as well as having direct contact with professionals in the field of microalgae, to being able to work in a work environment very different from Spanish, has made the experience very enriching.”
All three agree that the Erasmus experience has been worthwhile, and would encourage others to consider taking up a similar placement.
“Living abroad on your own makes you realise you're stronger, more courageous and more capable than you think,” said Sandra. “It is also a great learning opportunity and gives you valuable experience for the future.”
Louise Hall, the project manager for ALG-AD said: ““Swansea University has a thriving community of algae specialists, and we welcome collaborations with those interested in this field. ALG-AD seeks to explore the re-use of waste nutrients to produce algae as an animal feed, and we have been impressed with the contributions that our Erasmus students have made to our work.
“Thanks to Jose, Yoan and Sandra – and we wish them all the best for their future careers!”