In the last 30 years there has been an extraordinary increase in simulation and modeling tools, used by design engineers, decision makers and public services.
Research in mechanical and process engineering has provided a significant contribution to progress in these areas.
Today's scientific and technological challenges arise from new issues: sustainable development, alternative resource management, green technologies, environmental impact, risk management, health care...
The aim of Tec 21 Laboratory of Excellence is that our research contributes to finding engineering solutions for today’s increasingly complex challenges.
Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a swimming microalgae sensitive to light intensity. The researchers from the Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Physics in Grenoble studied the mechanical behaviour of a suspension of these algae in a pipe stream. They showed that the microorganisms will spontaneously migrate and concentrate around the center of the flow when stimulated by a light source placed upstream.
PI: Salima Rafaï
Ref: Garcia X, Rafaï S, Peyla P (2013) Light Control of the Flow of Phototactic Microswimmer Suspensions. Phys. Rev. Lett.
This focusing phenomenon was demonstrated to be due to the interactions between the algae movements towards the light source and the vorticity of the flow.
Considering the important potential of these microorganisms in bio-conversion, this result represents the first step towards new algae separation techniques, a major obstacle in bio-production processes. In an environmental perspective, the presence of certain pollutants was observed to significantly alter the phototaxis of these microswimmers, reducing their self-focusing ability. They could therefore be used in bio-sensors for the accurate detection of water contaminants.