Date of Graduation

12-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Zhang, Wen

Reader

Savin, Mary

Second Reader

Scott, Thad

Abstract

There is growing interest in the use of microalgae for wastewater treatment and biofuel production. However, there is not yet a reliable, user-friendly method of quantifying the biomass and lipid production of a large sample of algae. This study aims to establish and validate new methods for green microalgae quantification using the Microplate reader and the Coulter Counter. Chlorella vulgaris was chosen as the ‘ideal’ algal species for wastewater treatment and biofuel production due to its structure, lipid production, and pollution removal ability. Three traditional quantification methods -- microscope cell count, lipid separation, and chlorophyll extraction -- were compared to the Microplate and Coulter methods based on the required time, volume of sample, and additional chemical inputs, as well as accuracy of results (via standard deviation and r2 values). It was found that the Microplate reader was much more accurate than the traditional methods and that both of the modern methods required significantly less time and smaller sample volumes than the cumbersome traditional methods. Many industries stand to benefit from these shorter, safer, and more accurate methods of quantifying microalgae.

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