Gasum Gas Fund provides grants to researchers
We support research and development in the gas sector through the Gasum Gas Fund. The application period for 2022 starts January 11th and ends February 10th.
Gasum Gas Fund provided Rebecca Wicker a grant for her research. The grant has opened Wicker a window into the business world and brought more visibility for her research.
It will soon be possible to fight the climate change with the help of microalgae. This is the opinion of Rebecca Wicker who is working on her doctoral thesis at LUT University.
Wicker is one of the persons who received a grant for her research from the Gasum Gas Fund. Her research encompasses the use of natural microalgae for carbon dioxide and nutrient capture and production of bioenergy.
“Microalgae have huge potential as they are able to refine carbon dioxide into valuable biomolecules. In the future, the produced biomass could also be used for refining biofuel, such as biogas,” Wicker explains.
Wicker points out that naturally occurring microalgae are practically nature’s own plants for capturing carbon dioxide. That is why, in the future, their utilisation might play a key role in the fight against climate change.
“My objective is that with the help of microalgae, the collection of carbon dioxide would become so easy that the method could be widely utilised by the industry. A functional method like this would be circular economy at its best, because microalgae could be utilised, for example, in the processing of various waste waters.
So far, the scientific findings have been promising.
“It appears that with the help of microalgae, we might soon have a viable, sustainable and profitable method that can be applied across the world to mitigate climate change.”
Combating climate change was the very reason Wicker ended up studying microalgae.
“The topic is more timely than ever, and I believe that everyone can do their own small part for preventing climate change,” she says.
Wicker has previously studied biology, among other subjects. She began working on her doctoral thesis in Denmark but ended up in Finland because of the better opportunities for continuing her research.
“Overall, the Finnish education system is excellent. Compared to other countries, it is significantly easier to work on a doctoral thesis about a topic like mine in Finland. For example, researching topics related to climate change in the United States can prove quite difficult,” the American-born researcher explains.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused challenges for research work as well.
“There was a long break, during which we could not access the laboratory at all due to the coronavirus situation. It is not possible to conduct this research without being able to work in a laboratory.”
In Finland, Wicker has previously studied the role of peat in the climate change of arctic areas. She was familiarised with microalgae when studying the waste waters of agriculture and rainbow trout farming.
“I am especially interested in the microalgae of northern areas, as they are resilient and can survive in different kinds of extreme environments.”
The Gasum Gas Fund research grant has provided valuable financial support for the researcher. In addition to enabling the research work, the grant has also opened the door to the business world.
“The grant is extremely important from the point of view of networking. Thanks to the grant, the research gets more visibility, and I am able to bring out the results from the laboratory,” Wicker says.
She points out that grants also make it possible for researchers to travel. This is important for the scientific community which is spread out across the world and seeking to solve the problems caused by the climate change. Being able to exchange information within the scientific community is extremely valuable.
Wicker’s current research work will continue for approximately one more year. Her doctoral thesis should be finished by the end of 2022.
“I am currently finishing some studies in the laboratory. At the moment, I am particularly interested in finding out how more algae microbes could be grown in a smaller amount of water in the future. I also hope that we could develop a system for decreasing carbon dioxide emissions that would be easy enough to be deployed by the industry and businesses,” she explains.
The results of her current research work will be finalised in early 2022.
“After publishing the results, I will write one more research article, after which I will focus on the thesis for the rest of the year.”
Text: Pi Mäkilä
Images: Rebecca Wicker