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Algal Fuels: A Future Less Green than the Plant

Description

The algal fuel industry has existed since the 1980s without fully commercializing a product. Algal fuels are potentially viable replacements for fossil fuels due to their fast cultivation, high oil content, carbon dioxide sequestration during growth, and ability to

The algal fuel industry has existed since the 1980s without fully commercializing a product. Algal fuels are potentially viable replacements for fossil fuels due to their fast cultivation, high oil content, carbon dioxide sequestration during growth, and ability to be grown on non-arable land. For this thesis, six companies from 61 investigated were interviewed about their history with biofuels, technological changes they have gone through, and views for the future of the industry. All companies interviewed have moved away from fuel production largely due to high production costs and have moved primarily toward pharmaceuticals and animal feed production as well as wastewater treatment. While most do not plan to return to the biofuel industry in the near future, a return would likely require additional legislation, increased technological innovation, and coproduction of multiple products.

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2019-05

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Improving Biochemical Production in Escherichia coli through Nutrient Limitation

Description

Escherichia coli is a bacterium that is used widely in metabolic engineering due to its ability to grow at a fast rate and to be cultured easily. E. coli can be engineered to produce many valuable chemicals, including biofuels and

Escherichia coli is a bacterium that is used widely in metabolic engineering due to its ability to grow at a fast rate and to be cultured easily. E. coli can be engineered to produce many valuable chemicals, including biofuels and L-Phenylalanine—a precursor to many pharmaceuticals. Significant cell growth occurs in parallel to the biosynthesis of the desired biofuel or biochemical product, and limits product concentrations and yields. Stopping cell growth can improve chemical production since more resources will go toward chemical production than toward biomass. The goal of the project is to test different methods of controlling microbial uptake of nutrients, specifically phosphate, to dynamically limit cell growth and improve biochemical production of E. coli, and the research has the potential to promote public health, sustainability, and environment. This can be achieved by targeting phosphate transporter genes using CRISPRi and CRISPR, and they will limit the uptake of phosphate by targeting the phosphate transporter genes in DNA, which will stop transcriptions of the genes. In the experiment, NST74∆crr∆pykAF, a L-Phe overproducer, was used as the base strain, and the pitA phosphate transporter gene was targeted in the CRISPRi and CRISPR systems with the strain with other phosphate transporters knocked out. The tested CRISPRi and CRISPR mechanisms did not stop cell growth or improved L-Phe production. Further research will be conducted to determine the problem of the system. In addition, the CRISPRi and CRISPR systems that target multiple phosphate transporter genes will be tested in the future as well as the other method of stopping transcriptions of the phosphate transporter genes, which is called a tunable toggle switch mechanism.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Backend Construction of a Web Service

Description

A growing number of stylists \u2014 cosmetologists \u2014 are finding it harder to afford the basic necessities such as rent. However, the ever-increasing presence of smartphones and the increasing need for on-demand services like Uber and Uber Eats creates a

A growing number of stylists \u2014 cosmetologists \u2014 are finding it harder to afford the basic necessities such as rent. However, the ever-increasing presence of smartphones and the increasing need for on-demand services like Uber and Uber Eats creates a unique opportunity for stylists \u2014 Clippr. Clippr is an application that aims to connect individual stylists directly to their customers. The application gives stylists a platform to create and display their own prices, services, and portfolio. Customers get the benefit of finding a stylist that suits them and booking instantly. This project outlines the backend for the Clippr application. It goes over the framework, REST API, and various functionalities of the application. Additionally, the project also covers the work that is still needed to successfully launch the application.

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Date Created
2017-05

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Engineering a Co-culture System for Co-utilization of Lignocellulose-derived Sugars for Improved Biomass Conversion

Description

The inability of a single strain of bacteria to simultaneously and completely consume multiple sugars, such as glucose and xylose, hinder industrial microbial processes for ethanol and lactate production. To overcome this limitation, I am engineering an E. coli co-culture

The inability of a single strain of bacteria to simultaneously and completely consume multiple sugars, such as glucose and xylose, hinder industrial microbial processes for ethanol and lactate production. To overcome this limitation, I am engineering an E. coli co-culture system consisting of two ‘specialists'. One has the ability to only consume xylose and the other only glucose. This allows for co-utilization of lignocellulose-derived sugars so both sugars are completely consumed, residence time is reduced and lactate and ethanol titers are maximized.

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Date Created
2017-05

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Modulating the Heat Shock Response in E. coli to Optimize Membrane Protein Expression

Description

Membrane proteins are essential for cell survival and show potential as pharmacological and therapeutic targets in the field of nanobiotechnology.[1,2] In spite of their promise in these fields, research surrounding membrane proteins lags since their over-expression often leads to cell

Membrane proteins are essential for cell survival and show potential as pharmacological and therapeutic targets in the field of nanobiotechnology.[1,2] In spite of their promise in these fields, research surrounding membrane proteins lags since their over-expression often leads to cell toxicity and death.[3,4] It was hypothesized that membrane protein expression could be regulated and optimized by modifying the heat shock response of Escherichia coli (E. coli). To test this hypothesis, the membrane protein expression pathway was reprogrammed using gene-blocks that were antisense to vital membrane protein DNA and RNA binding-site sequences and included an IbpA-σ32 heat shock promoter. Anti-PBAD and anti-HtdR gene-blocks were designed to have antisense sequences to the DNA of the arabinose PBAD promotor and Haloterrigena turkmenica deltarhodopsin (HtdR) transmembrane protein respectively. These sequences were then employed to be cloned into a pMM102 vector and grown in NEB-5α E. coli cells.

Stable glycerol stocks of the pIbpA-antiPBAD and pIbpA-antiHtdR in BW25113 cells with either a pBLN200 or pHtdR200 plasmid were created. Then after inducing the cells with L-arabinose and 10mM all-trans retinal to allow for membrane protein expression, spectrophotometry was used to test the optical density of the cells at an absorbance of 600nm. Although general trends showed that the pHtdR200-pMM102 and pHtdR200-pIbpA cells had lower optical densities than the pBLN200 cells of all types, the results were determined to be statistically insignificant. Continuing, the pHtdR200 cells of all types showed a purple phenotype when spun down, as expected, while the cells with the pBLN200 plasmid had a colorless phenotype in pellet form. Further work will include cloning a GFP gene-block to test the ability of the anti-PBAD sequence in tuning the transcription of the GFP protein.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Temperature dependency on baseline of polymer modified Tuning Forks

Description

Polymer modified tuning fork-based sensors were fabricated to assure reproducibility. The effect of system valve switching on the modified tuning fork-based sensors was studied at the different temperature. The response to Xylene gas sample on stabilized modified tuning fork-based sensors

Polymer modified tuning fork-based sensors were fabricated to assure reproducibility. The effect of system valve switching on the modified tuning fork-based sensors was studied at the different temperature. The response to Xylene gas sample on stabilized modified tuning fork-based sensors with temperature was defined while learning about the key analytical performance for chemical sensors to be used in the real-world application.

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Date Created
2017-05

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Converting Combustion By-Products to Useful Chemicals and Fuels

Description

In the pursuit of sustainable sources of energy that do less harm to the environment, numerous technologies have been developed to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere. The implementation of carbon capture and storage systems (CCS) has played a crucial

In the pursuit of sustainable sources of energy that do less harm to the environment, numerous technologies have been developed to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere. The implementation of carbon capture and storage systems (CCS) has played a crucial role in reducing CO2 emissions, but depleting storage reserves and ever-increasing costs of sequestrating captured CO2 has prompted the idea of utilizing CO2 as soon as it is produced (i.e. carbon capture and utilization, or CCU) and storing any remaining amounts. This project analyzes the cost of implementing a delafossite CuFeO2 backed CCU system for the average US coal-burning power plant with respect to current amounts of CO2 captured. Beyond comparing annual maintenance costs of CCU and CCS systems, the project extends previous work done on direct CO2 conversion to liquid hydrocarbons by providing a protocol for determining how the presence of NO affects the products formed during pure CO2 hydrogenation. Overall, the goal is to gauge the applicability of CCU systems to power plants with a sub 10-year lifespan left, whilst observing the potential revenue that can be potentially generated from CCU implementation. Under current energy costs ($0.12 per kWh), a delafossite CuFeO2 supported CCU system would generate over $729 thousand in profit for an average sized supercritical pulverized coal power (SCPC) plants selling diesel fuel created from CO2 hydrogenation. This amount far exceeds the cost of storing captured CO2 and suggests that CCU systems can be profitable for SCPC power plants that intend to burn coal until 2025.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Investigation of the effect of efflux pumps on the toxicity of phenol, 2-phenylethanol, and styrene to E. coli

Description

Depletion of fossil fuel resources has led to the investigation of alternate feedstocks for and methods of chemical synthesis, in particular the use of E. coli biocatalysts to produce fine commodity chemicals from renewable glucose sources. Production of phenol, 2-phenylethanol,

Depletion of fossil fuel resources has led to the investigation of alternate feedstocks for and methods of chemical synthesis, in particular the use of E. coli biocatalysts to produce fine commodity chemicals from renewable glucose sources. Production of phenol, 2-phenylethanol, and styrene was investigated, in particular the limitation in yield and accumulation that results from high product toxicity. This paper examines two methods of product toxicity mitigation: the use of efflux pumps and the separation of pathways which produce less toxic intermediates. A library of 43 efflux pumps from various organisms were screened for their potential to confer resistance to phenol, 2-phenylethanol, and styrene on an E. coli host. A pump sourced from P. putida was found to allow for increased host growth in the presence of styrene as compared to a cell with no efflux pump. The separation of styrene producing pathway was also investigated. Cells capable of performing the first and latter halves of the synthesis were allowed to grow separately and later combined in order to capitalize on the relatively lower toxicity of the intermediate, trans-cinnamate. The styrene production and yield from this separated set of cultures was compared to that resulting from the growth of cells containing the full set of styrene synthesis genes. Results from this experiment were inconclusive.

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Date Created
2015-05

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Carbon Dioxide Separation by Ceramic-Carbonate Dual-Phase Membranes and Process Design for Membrane Reactor in IGCC Power Plant

Description

Currently, approximately 40% of the world’s electricity is generated from coal and coal power plants are one of the major sources of greenhouse gases accounting for a third of all CO2 emissions. The Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) has

Currently, approximately 40% of the world’s electricity is generated from coal and coal power plants are one of the major sources of greenhouse gases accounting for a third of all CO2 emissions. The Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) has been shown to provide an increase in plant efficiency compared to traditional coal-based power generation processes resulting in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The goal of this project was to analyze the performance of a new SNDC ceramic-carbonate dual-phase membrane for CO2 separation. The chemical formula for the SNDC-carbonate membrane was Sm0.075Nd0.075Ce0.85O1.925. This project also focused on the use of this membrane for pre-combustion CO2 capture coupled with a water gas shift (WGS) reaction for a 1000 MW power plant. The addition of this membrane to the traditional IGCC process provides a purer H2 stream for combustion in the gas turbine and results in lower operating costs and increased efficiencies for the plant. At 900 °C the CO2 flux and permeance of the SNDC-carbonate membrane were 0.65 mL/cm2•min and 1.0×10-7 mol/m2•s•Pa, respectively. Detailed in this report are the following: background regarding CO2 separation membranes and IGCC power plants, SNDC tubular membrane preparation and characterization, IGCC with membrane reactor plant design, process heat and mass balance, and plant cost estimations.

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Date Created
2014-05

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Design of an Ethanol Fermentation Plant

Description

Ethanol is a widely used biofuel in the United States that is typically produced through the fermentation of biomass feedstocks. Demand for ethanol has grown significantly from 2000 to 2015 chiefly due to a desire to increase energy independence and

Ethanol is a widely used biofuel in the United States that is typically produced through the fermentation of biomass feedstocks. Demand for ethanol has grown significantly from 2000 to 2015 chiefly due to a desire to increase energy independence and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases associated with transportation. As demand grows, new ethanol plants must be developed in order for supply to meet demand. This report covers some of the major considerations in developing these new plants such as the type of biomass used, feed treatment process, and product separation and investigates their effect on the economic viability and environmental benefits of the ethanol produced. The dry grind process for producing ethanol from corn, the most common method of production, is examined in greater detail. Analysis indicates that this process currently has the highest capacity for production and profitability but limited effect on greenhouse gas emissions compared to less common alternatives.

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Date Created
2015-05