RACING MEDIA: A COMPARISON OF BG-11 AND PE-001A

picture of Manuel Vasquez presenting his/her poster: RACING MEDIA: A COMPARISON OF BG-11 AND PE-001A

Manuel Vasquez , Kimberly Ogden, Christian Herrera, Juan Sandoval

RACING MEDIA: A COMPARISON OF BG-11 AND PE-001A

            Science has found an alternative source of energy in microalgae. Due to its rapid growth, consumption of carbon dioxide, and ability to produce biofuel, fertilizer, and food, it is an ideal organism to replace petroleum, its large carbon footprint, and its steadily increasing cost due to its depletion. For algal biofuels to become a viable alternative to fossil fuels, the economic barriers must be overcome by optimizing the growth conditions for a strain of algae that can grow unopposed in multiple environments. A strain of chlorella genetically modified by the Department of Energy (DOE 1412) is believed to meet these conditions; unfortunately, the recommended growth media (BG-11) runs an average cost $23.67 per liter. Studies in medium optimization at the University of Texas led to the creation of a media comparable to BG-11 known as Pe-001A running an average cost of $1.83 per liter. Seeing as both media introduce the same amount of nitrate and phosphate, the major nutrients consumed by the algae, it is believed that DOE 1412 grown in Pe-001A medium will show the same growth behavior and lipid content as DOE 1412 grown in the recommended BG-11 medium throughout the entire process of scaling it from 20L to 800L from a photo-bioreactor to an outdoor bathtub. To test the validity of this statement, an experiment was carried out in which 7L inoculums of DOE 1412 were scaled up to 20L, 50L, and 80L in two photo-bioreactors, one scaled up in BG-11 and the other in Pe-001A. When the photo-bioreactors reached a stationary phase in their growth, they were scaled up to 250L and then 800L in outdoor bathtub reactors. Optical densities were taken daily to track growth while lipid extractions, ash free dry weights, and fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles on transesterified lipids were carried out on samples taken before scaling up reactors to track composition. Preliminary growth data suggests that DOE 1412 grows similarly under both medium in both reactors. Funding for this project comes from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant # 52006942 and the US Department of Energy contract DE-EE0003046.

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