Date of Graduation

5-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Chemical Engineering

Advisor

Christa Hestekin

Committee Member

Robert Beitle

Second Committee Member

Ed Clausen

Third Committee Member

Jamie Hestekin

Fourth Committee Member

Michelle Evans-White

Keywords

Applied sciences; Algae; Biofuels; Bioreactors; Carbohydrate conversion

Abstract

Growing algae as a source for bio-fuels has become an area of interest due to concerns about global warming and the reliability and ecology of the production of fossil fuels. Dried algae harvested from a pilot water quality improvement technology at the Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Facility in New York were examined as a source of carbohydrates and lipids for the production of bio-fuels in bio-reactors. The length of storage time, storage conditions, sugar and lipid extraction processes, and fuel production were studied. The results show that if the algae is stored dry (<25% moisture), the algae stock can be used for up to a year with good conversion of carbohydrates to sugars using a 10% w/v of dried algae, yielding an average of 0.11 (g butanol/g sugar) from the bio-reactors year-round from a wide range of diatoms and other microalgae used to treat wastewater. Similarly, lipids could be obtained from the stored algal with value of >0.015 g/g algae even after a year in storage. The types of algae harvested has an effect on the amounts of sugars and lipids extracted, so two different methods to identify, monitor and quantify algae grown in both open and closed systems were evaluated. Capillary electrophoresis single strand conformational polymorphism (CE-SSCP) was able to identify known algae samples in an environmental system by "fingerprint" comparison, but may be most useful as a fast, accurate method of monitoring changes in the species in closed systems. We also examined and found capillary electrophoresis single base extension (CE-SBE) to be an extremely fast and accurate method to quantify the algae DNA of Chlorella vulgaris and Spirulina platensis in a closed system photo-bioreactor. A primer was designed that allowed the accurate correlation of the algae DNA amounts with the area under the curve in an electropherogram. This primer also distinguished between and quantified each species. CE-SBE demonstrated great potential for quantification of algae with difficult morphologies, and algae grown in a co-culture photo-bioreactor.

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