Algae as an Alternative Energy Source
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Abstract The United States has been faced with a shortage of fossil fuels and needs to find an alternative energy source. An ecologically friendly and abundant source of alternative fuel comes from biodiesel. One method of obtaining biodiesel is the extraction of oil from microalgae. We wanted to find which species of microalgae are the most efficient producers of oil at optimal conditions. To answer this question, six microalgal strains were obtained for testing. These microalgal strains were P. tricornutum, D. primolecta, M. salina, T. suecia, Isochrysis and B.
The algae was then cultured for forty to ninety days. In the beginning of the experiment, the microalgae cultures were maintained in batch mode but later on they were cultured into continuous and semi-continuous dilution modes. As the experiment continued, the independent variables, including the light intensity, the dilution rate and the N status, were manipulated. The process of photosynthesis was also altered. The six microalgal strains were then observed. Their dry mass, which is the mass of the microalgae, in grams, actually cultivated in the experiment, was weighed and noted.
suecia and P. tricornutum had the optimal production of lipids, as it had the highest percentage of lipids of the drymass. The other microalgal species all had lipid productions; however T. suecia and P. tricornutum had the highest lipid productions in comparison to the other microalgal species. This does give evidence to the fact that algae are good producers of lipids, which are then converted into biofuel. In comparison to other organic species, microalgae is highly oily and the oil is able to be harvested for the use of biofuel. The amount of oil will offer a credible alternative to the energy crisis our country is currently experiencing.
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