Matching Items (11)

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Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Micro-Algae to Produce Liquid Biofuels

Description

Fossil fuels are currently the main source of energy in the world’s transportation sector. They are also the primary contributor to carbon emissions in the atmosphere, leading to adverse climate

Fossil fuels are currently the main source of energy in the world’s transportation sector. They are also the primary contributor to carbon emissions in the atmosphere, leading to adverse climate effects. The objective of the following research is to increase the yield and efficiency of algal biofuel in order to establish algal-derived fuel as a competitive alternative to predominantly used fossil fuels. Using biofuel commercially will reduce the cost of production and ultimately decrease additional carbon emissions. Experiments were performed using hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) to determine which catalyst would enhance the algal biocrude oil and result in the highest quality biofuel product, as well as to find the optimal combination of processing temperature and manure co-liquefaction of biomass ratio. For the catalytic upgrading experiments, Micractenium Immerum algae was used in conjunction with pure H2, Pt/C, MO2C, and HZSM-5 catalysts at 350℃ and 400℃, 430 psi, and a 30-minute residence time to investigate the effects of catalyst choice and temperature on the crude oil yield. While all catalysts increased the carbon content of the crude oil, it was found that using HZSM-5 at 350℃ resulted in the greatest overall yield of about 75%. However, the Pt/C catalyst increased the HHV from 34.26 MJ/kg to 43.26 MJ/kg. Cyanidioschyzon merolae (CM) algae and swine manure were utilized in the co-liquefaction experiments, in ratios (algae to swine) of 80:20, 50:50, and 20:80 at temperatures of 300℃ and 330℃. It was found that a ratio of 80:20 at 330℃ produced the highest biocrude oil yield of 29.3%. Although the 80:20 experiments had the greatest biomass conversion and best supported the deacidification of the oil product, the biocrude oil had a HHV of 33.58 MJ/kg, the lowest between the three different ratios. However, all calorific values were relatively close to each other, suggesting that both catalytic upgrading and co-liquefaction can increase the efficiency and economic viability of algal biofuel.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Improvement strategies for the production of renewable chemicals by Synechocystis sp PCC 6803

Description

Synechocystis sp PCC 6803 is a photosynthetic cyanobacterium that can be easily transformed to produce molecules of interest; this has increased Synechocystis’ popularity as a clean energy platform. Synechocystis has

Synechocystis sp PCC 6803 is a photosynthetic cyanobacterium that can be easily transformed to produce molecules of interest; this has increased Synechocystis’ popularity as a clean energy platform. Synechocystis has been shown to produce and excrete molecules such as fatty acids, isoprene, etc. after appropriate genetic modification. Challenges faced for large–scale growth of modified Synechocystis include abiotic stress, microbial contamination and high processing costs of product and cell material. Research reported in this dissertation contributes to solutions to these challenges. First, abiotic stress was addressed by overexpression of the heat shock protein ClpB1. In contrast to the wild type, the ClpB1 overexpression mutant (Slr1641+) tolerated rapid temperature changes, but no difference was found between the strains when temperature shifts were slower. Combination of ClpB1 overexpression with DnaK2 overexpression (Slr1641+/Sll0170+) further increased thermotolerance. Next, we used a Synechocystis strain that carries an introduced isoprene synthase gene (IspS+) and that therefore produces isoprene. We attempted to increase isoprene yields by overexpression of key enzymes in the methyl erythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway that leads to synthesis of the isoprene precursor. Isoprene production was not increased greatly by MEP pathway induction, likely because of limitations in the affinity of the isoprene synthase for the substrate. Finally, two extraction principles, two–phase liquid extraction (e.g., with an organic and aqueous phase) and solid–liquid extraction (e.g., with a resin) were tested. Two–phase liquid extraction is suitable for separating isoprene but not fatty acids from the culture medium. Fatty acid removal required acidification or surfactant addition, which affected biocompatibility. Therefore, improvements of both the organism and product–harvesting methods can contribute to enhancing the potential of cyanobacteria as solar–powered biocatalysts for the production of petroleum substitutes.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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Microbial communities involved in carbon monoxide and syngas conversion to biofuels and chemicals

Description

On average, our society generates ~0.5 ton of municipal solid waste per person annually. Biomass waste can be gasified to generate synthesis gas (syngas), a gas mixture consisting predominantly of

On average, our society generates ~0.5 ton of municipal solid waste per person annually. Biomass waste can be gasified to generate synthesis gas (syngas), a gas mixture consisting predominantly of CO, CO2, and H2. Syngas, rich in carbon and electrons, can fuel the metabolism of carboxidotrophs, anaerobic microorganisms that metabolize CO (a toxic pollutant) and produce biofuels (H2, ethanol) and commodity chemicals (acetate and other fatty acids). Despite the attempts for commercialization of syngas fermentation by several companies, the metabolic processes involved in CO and syngas metabolism are not well understood. This dissertation aims to contribute to the understanding of CO and syngas fermentation by uncovering key microorganisms and understanding their metabolism. For this, microbiology and molecular biology techniques were combined with analytical chemistry analyses and deep sequencing techniques. First, environments where CO is commonly detected, including the seafloor, volcanic sand, and sewage sludge, were explored to identify potential carboxidotrophs. Since carboxidotrophs from sludge consumed CO 1000 faster than those in nature, mesophilic sludge was used as inoculum to enrich for CO- and syngas- metabolizing microbes. Two carboxidotrophs were isolated from this culture: an acetate/ethanol-producer 99% phylogenetically similar to Acetobacterium wieringae and a novel H2-producer, Pleomorphomonas carboxidotrophicus sp. nov. Comparison of CO and syngas fermentation by the CO-enriched culture and the isolates suggested mixed-culture syngas fermentation as a better alternative to ferment CO-rich gases. Advantages of mixed cultures included complete consumption of H2 and CO2 (along with CO), flexibility under different syngas compositions, functional redundancy (for acetate production) and high ethanol production after providing a continuous supply of electrons. Lastly, dilute ethanol solutions, typical of syngas fermentation processes, were upgraded to medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), biofuel precursors, through the continuous addition of CO. In these bioreactors, methanogens were inhibited and Peptostreptococcaceae and Lachnospiraceae spp. most likely partnered with carboxidotrophs for MCFA production. These results reveal novel microorganisms capable of effectively consuming an atmospheric pollutant, shed light on the interplay between syngas components, microbial communities, and metabolites produced, and support mixed-culture syngas fermentation for the production of a wide variety of biofuels and commodity chemicals.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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Design of Redox Proteins as Catalysts for Fuel Production

Description

Redox enzymes represent a big group of proteins and they serve as catalysts for

biological processes that involve electron transfer. These proteins contain a redox center

that determines their functional properties, and

Redox enzymes represent a big group of proteins and they serve as catalysts for

biological processes that involve electron transfer. These proteins contain a redox center

that determines their functional properties, and hence, altering this center or incorporating

non-biological redox cofactor to proteins has been used as a means to generate redox

proteins with desirable activities for biological and chemical applications. Porphyrins and

Fe-S clusters are among the most common cofactors that biology employs for electron

transfer processes and there have been many studies on potential activities that they offer

in redox reactions.

In this dissertation, redox activity of Fe-S clusters and catalytic activity of porphyrins

have been explored with regard to protein scaffolds. In the first part, modular property of

repeat proteins along with previously established protein design principles have been

used to incorporate multiple Fe-S clusters within the repeat protein scaffold. This study is

the first example of exploiting a single scaffold to assemble a determined number of

clusters. In exploring the catalytic activity of transmetallated porphyrins, a cobalt-porphyrin

binding protein known as cytochrome c was employed in a water oxidation

photoelectrochemical cell. This system can be further coupled to a hydrogen production

electrode to achieve a full water splitting tandem cell. Finally, a cobalt-porphyrin binding

protein known as cytochrome b562 was employed to design a whole cell catalysis system,

and the activity of the surface-displayed protein for hydrogen production was explored

photochemically. This system can further be expanded for directed evolution studies and

high-throughput screening.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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From Customized Cellular Adhesion to Synthetic Ecology: Characterizing the Cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC 6803 for Biofuel Production

Description

ABSTRACT

Sustainable global energy production is one of the grand challenges of the 21st century. Next-generation renewable energy sources include using photosynthetic microbes such as cyanobacteria for efficient production of sustainable

ABSTRACT

Sustainable global energy production is one of the grand challenges of the 21st century. Next-generation renewable energy sources include using photosynthetic microbes such as cyanobacteria for efficient production of sustainable fuels from sunlight. The cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC 6803 (Synechocystis) is a genetically tractable model organism for plant-like photosynthesis that is used to develop microbial biofuel technologies. However, outside of photosynthetic processes, relatively little is known about the biology of microbial phototrophs such as Synechocystis, which impairs their development into market-ready technologies. My research objective was to characterize strategic aspects of Synechocystis biology related to its use in biofuel production; specifically, how the cell surface modulates the interactions between Synechocystis cells and the environment. First, I documented extensive biofouling, or unwanted biofilm formation, in a 4,000-liter roof-top photobioreactor (PBR) used to cultivate Synechocystis, and correlated this cell-binding phenotype with changes in nutrient status by developing a bench-scale assay for axenic phototrophic biofilm formation. Second, I created a library of mutants that lack cell surface structures, and used this biofilm assay to show that mutants lacking the structures pili or S-layer have a non-biofouling phenotype. Third, I analyzed the transcriptomes of cultures showing aggregation, another cell-binding phenotype, and demonstrated that the cells were undergoing stringent response, a type of conserved stress response. Finally, I used contaminant Consortia and statistical modeling to test whether Synechocystis mutants lacking cell surface structures could reduce contaminant growth in mixed cultures. In summary, I have identified genetic and environmental means of manipulating Synechocystis strains for customized adhesion phenotypes, for more economical biomass harvesting and non-biofouling methods. Additionally, I developed a modified biofilm assay and demonstrated its utility in closing a key gap in the field of microbiology related to axenic phototrophic biofilm formation assays. Also, I demonstrated that statistical modeling of contaminant Consortia predicts contaminant growth across diverse species. Collectively, these findings serve as the basis for immediately lowering the cost barrier of Synechocystis biofuels via a more economical biomass-dewatering step, and provide new research tools for improving Synechocystis strains and culture ecology management for improved biofuel production.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Approaches to engineering Synechocystis for biofuel production with emphasis on electron transport modifications

Description

The basic scheme for photosynthesis suggests the two photosystems existing in parity with one another. However, cyanobacteria typically maintain significantly more photosystem I (PSI) than photosystem II (PSII) complexes. I

The basic scheme for photosynthesis suggests the two photosystems existing in parity with one another. However, cyanobacteria typically maintain significantly more photosystem I (PSI) than photosystem II (PSII) complexes. I set out to evaluate this disparity through development and analysis of multiple mutants of the genetically tractable cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 that exhibit a range of expression levels of the main proteins present in PSI (Chapter 2). One hypothesis was that the higher abundance of PSI in this organism is used to enable more cyclic electron flow (CEF) around PSI to contribute to greater ATP synthesis. Results of this study show that indeed CEF is enhanced by the high amount of PSI present in WT. On the other hand, mutants with less PSI and less cyclic electron flow appeared able to maintain healthy levels of ATP synthesis through other compensatory mechanisms. Reduction in PSI abundance is naturally associated with reduced chlorophyll content, and mutants with less PSI showed greater primary productivity as light intensity increased due to increased light penetration in the cultures. Another question addressed in this research project involved the effect of deletion of flavoprotein 3 (an electron sink for PSI-generated electrons) from mutant strains that produce and secrete a fatty acid (Chapter 3). Removing Flv3 increased fatty acid production, most likely due to increased abundance of reducing equivalents that are key to fatty acid biosynthesis. Additional components of my dissertation research included examination of alkane biosynthesis in Synechocystis (Chapter 4), and effects of attempting to overexpress fibrillin genes for enhancement of stored compounds (Chapter 5). Synechocystis is an excellent platform for metabolic engineering studies with its photosynthetic capability and ease of genetic alteration, and the presented research sheds light on multiple aspects of its fundamental biology.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Computational sustainability assessment of algal biofuels and bioproducts for commercial applications

Description

To date, the production of algal biofuels is not economically sustainable due to the cost of production and the low cost of conventional fuels. As a result, interest has been

To date, the production of algal biofuels is not economically sustainable due to the cost of production and the low cost of conventional fuels. As a result, interest has been shifting to high value products in the algae community to make up for the low economic potential of algal biofuels. The economic potential of high-value products does not however, eliminate the need to consider the environmental impacts. The majority of the environmental impacts associated with algal biofuels overlap with algal bioproducts in general (high-energy dewatering) due to the similarities in their production pathways. Selecting appropriate product sets is a critical step in the commercialization of algal biorefineries.

This thesis evaluates the potential of algae multiproduct biorefineries for the production of fuel and high-value products to be economically self-sufficient and still contribute to climate change mandates laid out by the government via the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. This research demonstrates:

1) The environmental impacts of algal omega-3 fatty acid production can be lower than conventional omega-3 fatty acid production, depending on the dewatering strategy.

2) The production of high-value products can support biofuels with both products being sold at prices comparable to 2016 prices.

3) There is a tradeoff between revenue and fuel production

4) There is a tradeoff between the net energy ratio of the algal biorefinery and the economic viability due to the lower fuel production in a multi-product model that produces high-value products and diesel vs. the lower economic potential from a multi-product model that just produces diesel.

This work represents the first efforts to use life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis to assess the economic and environmental sustainability of an existing pilot-scale biorefinery tasked with the production of high-value products and biofuels. This thesis also identifies improvements for multiproduct algal biorefineries that will achieve environmentally sustainable biofuel and products while maintaining economic viability.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Engineering cyanobacteria to convert carbon dioxide to building blocks for renewable plastics

Description

The production of monomer compounds for synthesizing plastics has to date been largely restricted to the petroleum-based chemical industry and sugar-based microbial fermentation, limiting its sustainability and economic feasibility. Cyanobacteria

The production of monomer compounds for synthesizing plastics has to date been largely restricted to the petroleum-based chemical industry and sugar-based microbial fermentation, limiting its sustainability and economic feasibility. Cyanobacteria have, however, become attractive microbial factories to produce renewable fuels and chemicals directly from sunlight and CO2. To explore the feasibility of photosynthetic production of (S)- and (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB), building-block monomers for synthesizing the biodegradable plastics polyhydroxyalkanoates and precursors to fine chemicals, synthetic metabolic pathways have been constructed, characterized and optimized in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 (hereafter Synechocystis 6803). Both types of 3HB molecules were produced and readily secreted from Synechocystis cells without over-expression of transporters. Additional inactivation of the competing PHB biosynthesis pathway further promoted the 3HB production. Analysis of the intracellular acetyl-CoA and anion concentrations in the culture media indicated that the phosphate consumption during the photoautotrophic growth and the concomitant elevated acetyl-CoA pool acted as a key driving force for 3HB biosynthesis in Synechocystis. Fine-tuning of the gene expression levels via strategies, including tuning gene copy numbers, promoter engineering and ribosome binding site optimization, proved critical to mitigating metabolic bottlenecks and thus improving the 3HB production. One of the engineered Synechocystis strains, namely R168, was able to produce (R)-3HB to a cumulative titer of ~1600 mg/L, with a peak daily productivity of ~200 mg/L, using light and CO2 as the sole energy and carbon sources, respectively. Additionally, in order to establish a high-efficiency transformation protocol in cyanobacterium Synechocystis 6803, methyltransferase-encoding genes were cloned and expressed to pre-methylate the exogenous DNA before Synechocystis transformation. Eventually, the transformation efficiency was increased by two orders of magnitude in Synechocystis. This research has demonstrated the use of cyanobacteria as cell factories to produce 3HB directly from light and CO2, and developed new synthetic biology tools for cyanobacteria.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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The potential of coastal marine filtration as a feedstock source for biodiesel

Description

Second-generation biofuel feedstocks are currently grown in land-based systems that use valuable resources like water, electricity and fertilizer. This study investigates the potential of near-shore marine (ocean) seawater filtration as

Second-generation biofuel feedstocks are currently grown in land-based systems that use valuable resources like water, electricity and fertilizer. This study investigates the potential of near-shore marine (ocean) seawater filtration as a source of planktonic biomass for biofuel production. Mixed marine organisms in the size range of 20µm to 500µm were isolated from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) seawater filtration system during weekly backwash events between the months of April and August, 2011. The quantity of organic material produced was determined by sample combustion and calculation of ash-free dry weights. Qualitative investigation required density gradient separation with the heavy liquid sodium metatungstate followed by direct transesterification and gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) of the fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) produced. A maximum of 0.083g/L of dried organic material was produced in a single backwash event and a study average of 0.036g/L was calculated. This equates to an average weekly value of 7,674.75g of dried organic material produced from the filtration of approximately 24,417,792 liters of seawater. Temporal variations were limited. Organic quantities decreased over the course of the study. Bio-fouling effects from mussel overgrowth inexplicably increased production values when compared to un-fouled seawater supply lines. FAMEs (biodiesel) averaged 0.004% of the dried organic material with 0.36ml of biodiesel produced per week, on average. C16:0 and C22:6n3 fatty acids comprised the majority of the fatty acids in the samples. Saturated fatty acids made up 30.71% to 44.09% and unsaturated forms comprised 55.90% to 66.32% of the total chemical composition. Both quantities and qualities of organics and FAMEs were unrealistic for use as biodiesel but sample size limitations, system design, geographic and temporal factors may have impacted study results.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Examining the impacts of switchgrass derived biofuels on U.S. biofuel policy and the potential environmental ethical dilemmas

Description

Overall, biofuels play a significant role in future energy sourcing and deserve thorough researching and examining for their best use in achieving sustainable goals. National and state policies are supporting

Overall, biofuels play a significant role in future energy sourcing and deserve thorough researching and examining for their best use in achieving sustainable goals. National and state policies are supporting biofuel production as a sustainable option without a holistic view of total impacts. The analysis from this research connects to policies based on life cycle sustainability to identify other environmental impacts beyond those specified in the policy as well as ethical issues that are a concern. A Life cycle assessment (LCA) of switchgrass agriculture indicates it will be challenging to meet U.S. Renewable Fuel Standards with only switchgrass cellulosic ethanol, yet may be used for California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Ethical dilemmas in food supply, land conservation, and water use can be connected to biofuel production and will require evaluation as policies are created. The discussions around these ethical dilemmas should be had throughout the process of biofuel production and policy making. Earth system engineering management principles can help start the discussions and allow anthropocentric and biocentric viewpoints to be heard.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014