Project Summary

    While algal biofuels have been gaining global attention as a promising energy alternative to fossil fuels, many insights still need to be developed on how to grow algae effectively so that biofuels can become economically feasible. This project attempts to pinpoint the optimal iron3+ concentrations as well as bioavailabilities to maximize the growth and lipid development efficiency of a strain of microalgae with previously identified high lipid yields known as Scenedesmus sp.

            Quantitative data for biomass and lipid evaluation were collected through fluorometric and gravimetric means. For gravimetric biomass evaluation, algae was harvested through GFF filtration. For gravimetric lipid evaluation, lipids were extracted with a cyclohexane-isopropyl alcohol solvent.

            My project determined that there exists a strong parabolic correlation between the logarithm of iron concentration and overall algal growth. Through this correlation it is estimated that 0.0007ppm iron3+ concentration could yield maximum algal growth.  This project also determined that at the lower two concentrations, an increase in bioavailability hindered algal growth, while at the higher two concentrations, bioavailability played no role in growth. This means that if controlled properly, bioavailability of a growth medium has great potential to improve algal biofuels.  Lastly and most excitingly, the results of my project indicate the existence of a subspecies of Scenedesmus sp. which possesses a tremendously high natural lipid yield (~55% as compared to the 25% lipid yields of the aggregate). This could affect the economics of algae production because if this subspecies were isolated, we could produce a culture with both an amazing growth rate and a phenomenal lipid yield.  



Maximizing Algal Lipid Yields

 

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