Tyler Hamilton reports in the Toronto Star that Dr. Wankei Wan, a professor of biochemical engineering at the University of Western Ontario and his research team, have found a relationship between algal growth and magnetic fields.

In the soon to be published report, the research group built a small raceway pond and began growing a single-celled algae called Chlorella kessleri. They measured the pace of algae growth and oil production, and then changed the set-up so that the algae in the pond circulated through an area exposed to static magnetic fields.

According to their observations, the magnetic field exposure “almost quadrupled the biomass and lipid (oil) production rate in raceway ponds,” according to the paper. They also noticed the magnetically stimulated algae produced dramatically more antioxidants, such as Astaxanthin.

Wan said the algae behaved differently depending on the strength of the magnetic fields and length of exposure to them. The researchers also noticed that growth increased steadily as field strength grew. Then, once peak growth was reached, there was a steep decline. This suggested to Wan that there is a “sweet spot,” that might vary depending on the type of algae being grown.

While other studies in the past have noted the relationship between magnetism and algal growth, Wan’s research claims to be the first to do a detailed study to identify the optimum magnetic intensity for boosting growth.

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