Utilization of Native Algae Species in Remediation of Mining Runoff: Selenium as a Case Study

  • Event Type: Seminar
  • Speaker: Andrei Guschin, Advisory Council Member, Climate SolutionsSeattle, USA; Visiting Professor, American University of Armenia
  • Venue: American University of Armenia


Clean technology entrepreneur Dr. Andrei Guschin spoke at the American University of Armenia on the use of algae to remove mining runoff toxins such as Selenium. The public seminar was a part of an ongoing series organized by the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment.

Selenium (Se) is a naturally occurring element found in trace levels in soils, water, plants and animals. The anthropogenic redistribution of Se through agricultural runoff, coal combustion, refining of metal ores and mining has caused elevated levels of selenium that is harmful to plants and animals.

Algae have been identified as agents that can remove Se and other pollutants from contaminated water, as they have the ability to accumulate into their organism heavy metals and other toxins. If algal bioremediation is to be effective, the production of large quantities of biomass is required. During the growth of microalgae, metals and other toxins are removed from the environment by adsorption.

By providing the proper growth conditions, such as light, pH, temperature etc., algae biomass can provide a simple, cost effective method of bioremediation. Dr. Guschin discussed the process of bioremediation with algae in greater detail as well as technology created at Bionavitas, a company he had co-founded, which has applications to facilities using the sun by reducing the effects of self-shading. This enables smaller footprint solutions.

About the Speaker:
Based in Seattle, USA, Dr. Andrei Guschin is a lecturer in Entrepreneurship & Innovation at AUA and other leading business schools in Eastern Europe and North America. He has been educating entrepreneurs on how to build successful companies since 2004. He has served as Chair of the Venture Lab, a division of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Enterprise Forum NW.

In addition, Dr. Guschin co-founded two clean technology companies, including Bionavitas, Inc., where he was Director, R&D, responsible for developing a platform technology to dramatically increase algal growth for remediation of mining runoff. Dr. Guschin also consulted with Fortune 500 firms in strategy development, and advised 3M in selecting products for mass production. He was a postdoctoral associate at MIT with a Nobel Laureate and holds a Ph.D. from the Russian Academy of Sciences and an M.S. from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. He also studied at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.