Matching Items (12)

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

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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

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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2013

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Characterization of novel adsorbents for recovery of biofuels

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Due to depletion of oil resources, increasing fuel prices and environmental issues associated with burning of fossil fuels, extensive research has been performed in biofuel production and dramatic progress has been made. But still problems exist in economically production of

Due to depletion of oil resources, increasing fuel prices and environmental issues associated with burning of fossil fuels, extensive research has been performed in biofuel production and dramatic progress has been made. But still problems exist in economically production of biofuels. One major problem is recovery of biofuels from fermentation broth with the relatively low product titer achieved. A lot of in situ product recovery techniques including liquid-liquid extraction, membrane extraction, pervaporation, gas stripping and adsorption have been developed and adsorption is shown to be the most promising one compared to other methods. Yet adsorption is not perfect due to defect in adsorbents and operation method used. So laurate adsorption using polymer resins was first investigated by doing adsorption isotherm, kinetic, breakthrough curve experiment and column adsorption of laurate from culture. The results indicate that polymer resins have good capacity for laurate with the highest capacity of 430 g/kg achieved by IRA-402 and can successfully recover laurate from culture without causing problem to Synechocystis sp.. Another research of this paper focused on a novel adsorbent: magnetic particles by doing adsorption equilibrium, kinetic and toxicity experiment. Preliminary results showed excellent performance on both adsorption capacity and kinetics. But further experiment revealed that magnetic particles were toxicity and inhibited growth of all kinds of cell tested severely, toxicity probably comes from Co (III) in magnetic particles. This problem might be solved by either using biocompatible coatings or immobilization of cells, which needs more investigation.

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2012

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The development and evaluation of biofuel production systems on marginal land

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The consumption of feedstocks from agriculture and forestry by current biofuel production has raised concerns about food security and land availability. In the meantime, intensive human activities have created a large amount of marginal lands that require management. This study

The consumption of feedstocks from agriculture and forestry by current biofuel production has raised concerns about food security and land availability. In the meantime, intensive human activities have created a large amount of marginal lands that require management. This study investigated the viability of aligning land management with biofuel production on marginal lands. Biofuel crop production on two types of marginal lands, namely urban vacant lots and abandoned mine lands (AMLs), were assessed. The investigation of biofuel production on urban marginal land was carried out in Pittsburgh between 2008 and 2011, using the sunflower gardens developed by a Pittsburgh non-profit as an example. Results showed that the crops from urban marginal lands were safe for biofuel. The crop yield was 20% of that on agricultural land while the low input agriculture was used in crop cultivation. The energy balance analysis demonstrated that the sunflower gardens could produce a net energy return even at the current low yield. Biofuel production on AML was assessed from experiments conducted in a greenhouse for sunflower, soybean, corn, canola and camelina. The research successfully created an industrial symbiosis by using bauxite as soil amendment to enable plant growth on very acidic mine refuse. Phytoremediation and soil amendments were found to be able to effectively reduce contamination in the AML and its runoff. Results from this research supported that biofuel production on marginal lands could be a unique and feasible option for cultivating biofuel feedstocks.

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2013

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Characterization of novel adsorbents for the recovery of alcohol biofuels from aqueous solutions via solid-phase extraction

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Emergent environmental issues, ever-shrinking petroleum reserves, and rising fossil fuel costs continue to spur interest in the development of sustainable biofuels from renewable feed-stocks. Meanwhile, however, the development and viability of biofuel fermentations remain limited by numerous factors such as

Emergent environmental issues, ever-shrinking petroleum reserves, and rising fossil fuel costs continue to spur interest in the development of sustainable biofuels from renewable feed-stocks. Meanwhile, however, the development and viability of biofuel fermentations remain limited by numerous factors such as feedback inhibition and inefficient and generally energy intensive product recovery processes. To circumvent both feedback inhibition and recovery issues, researchers have turned their attention to incorporating energy efficient separation techniques such as adsorption in in situ product recovery (ISPR) approaches. This thesis focused on the characterization of two novel adsorbents for the recovery of alcohol biofuels from model aqueous solutions. First, a hydrophobic silica aerogel was evaluated as a biofuel adsorbent through characterization of equilibrium behavior for conventional second generation biofuels (e.g., ethanol and n-butanol). Longer chain and accordingly more hydrophobic alcohols (i.e., n-butanol and 2-pentanol) were more effectively adsorbed than shorter chain alcohols (i.e., ethanol and i-propanol), suggesting a mechanism of hydrophobic adsorption. Still, the adsorbed alcohol capacity at biologically relevant conditions were low relative to other `model' biofuel adsorbents as a result of poor interfacial contact between the aqueous and sorbent. However, sorbent wettability and adsorption is greatly enhanced at high concentrations of alcohol in the aqueous. Consequently, the sorbent exhibits Type IV adsorption isotherms for all biofuels studied, which results from significant multilayer adsorption at elevated alcohol concentrations in the aqueous. Additionally, sorbent wettability significantly affects the dynamic binding efficiency within a packed adsorption column. Second, mesoporous carbons were evaluated as biofuel adsorbents through characterization of equilibrium and kinetic behavior. Variations in synthetic conditions enabled tuning of specific surface area and pore morphology of adsorbents. The adsorbed alcohol capacity increased with elevated specific surface area of the adsorbents. While their adsorption capacity is comparable to polymeric adsorbents of similar surface area, pore morphology and structure of mesoporous carbons greatly influenced adsorption rates. Multiple cycles of adsorbent regeneration rendered no impact on adsorption equilibrium or kinetics. The high chemical and thermal stability of mesoporous carbons provide potential significant advantages over other commonly examined biofuel adsorbents. Correspondingly, mesoporous carbons should be further studied for biofuel ISPR applications.

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2011

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

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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

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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2011

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Towards biohybrid artificial photosynthesis

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A vast amount of energy emanates from the sun, and at the distance of Earth, approximately 172,500 TW reaches the atmosphere. Of that, 80,600 TW reaches the surface with 15,600 TW falling on land. Photosynthesis converts 156 TW in the

A vast amount of energy emanates from the sun, and at the distance of Earth, approximately 172,500 TW reaches the atmosphere. Of that, 80,600 TW reaches the surface with 15,600 TW falling on land. Photosynthesis converts 156 TW in the form of biomass, which represents all food/fuel for the biosphere with about 20 TW of the total product used by humans. Additionally, our society uses approximately 20 more TW of energy from ancient photosynthetic products i.e. fossil fuels. In order to mitigate climate problems, the carbon dioxide must be removed from the human energy usage by replacement or recycling as an energy carrier. Proposals have been made to process biomass into biofuels; this work demonstrates that current efficiencies of natural photosynthesis are inadequate for this purpose, the effects of fossil fuel replacement with biofuels is ecologically irresponsible, and new technologies are required to operate at sufficient efficiencies to utilize artificial solar-to-fuels systems. Herein a hybrid bioderived self-assembling hydrogen-evolving nanoparticle consisting of photosystem I (PSI) and platinum nanoclusters is demonstrated to operate with an overall efficiency of 6%, which exceeds that of land plants by more than an order of magnitude. The system was limited by the rate of electron donation to photooxidized PSI. Further work investigated the interactions of natural donor acceptor pairs of cytochrome c6 and PSI for the thermophilic cyanobacteria Thermosynechococcus elogantus BP1 and the red alga Galderia sulphuraria. The cyanobacterial system is typified by collisional control while the algal system demonstrates a population of prebound PSI-cytochrome c6 complexes with faster electron transfer rates. Combining the stability of cyanobacterial PSI and kinetics of the algal PSI:cytochrome would result in more efficient solar-to-fuel conversion. A second priority is the replacement of platinum with chemically abundant catalysts. In this work, protein scaffolds are employed using host-guest strategies to increase the stability of proton reduction catalysts and enhance the turnover number without the oxygen sensitivity of hydrogenases. Finally, design of unnatural electron transfer proteins are explored and may introduce a bioorthogonal method of introducing alternative electron transfer pathways in vitro or in vivo in the case of engineered photosynthetic organisms.

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2014

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Phosphorus recovery from microbial biofuel residual using microwave peroxide digestion and anion exchange

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Biofuel from microbial biomass is a viable alternative to current energy production practices that could mitigate greenhouse gas levels and reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Sustainable production of microbial biomass requires efficient utilization of nutrients like phosphorus (P). P is

Biofuel from microbial biomass is a viable alternative to current energy production practices that could mitigate greenhouse gas levels and reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Sustainable production of microbial biomass requires efficient utilization of nutrients like phosphorus (P). P is a limited resource which is vital for global food security. This paper seeks to understand the fate of P through biofuel production and proposes a proof-of-concept process to recover P from microbial biomass. The photosynthetic cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 is found to contain 1.4% P by dry weight. After the crude lipids are extracted for biofuel processing, 92% of the intercellular P is found within the residual biomass. Most intercellular P is associated with nucleic acids which remain within the cell after lipids are extracted. Phospholipids comprise a small percentage of cellular P. A wet chemical advanced oxidation process of adding 30% hydrogen peroxide followed by 10 min of microwave heating converts 92% of the total cellular P from organic-P and polyphosphate into orthophosphate. P was then isolated and concentrated from the complex digested matrix by use of resins. An anion exchange resin impregnated with iron nanoparticles demonstrates high affinity for P by sorbing 98% of the influent P through 20 bed volumes, but only was able to release 23% of it when regenerated. A strong base anion exchange resin sorbed 87% of the influent P through 20 bed volumes then released 50% of it upon regeneration. The overall P recovery process was able to recover 48% of the starting intercellular P into a pure and concentrated nutrient solution available for reuse. Further optimization of elution could improve P recovery, but this provides a proof-of-concept for converting residual biomass after lipid extraction to a beneficial P source.

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2012

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Impact of viral infectivity on phototrophic microbes for biofuel applications

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Research in microbial biofuels has dramatically increased over the last decade. The bulk of this research has focused on increasing the production yields of cyanobacteria and algal cells and improving extraction processes. However, there has been little to no research

Research in microbial biofuels has dramatically increased over the last decade. The bulk of this research has focused on increasing the production yields of cyanobacteria and algal cells and improving extraction processes. However, there has been little to no research on the potential impact of viruses on the yields of these phototrophic microbes for biofuel production. Viruses have the potential to significantly reduce microbial populations and limit their growth rates. It is therefore important to understand how viruses affect phototrophic microbes and the prevalence of these viruses in the environment. For this study, phototrophic microbes were grown in glass bioreactors, under continuous light and aeration. Detection and quantification of viruses of both environmental and laboratory microbial strains were measured through the use of a plaque assay. Plates were incubated at 25º C under continuous direct florescent light. Several environmental samples were taken from Tempe Town Lake (Tempe, AZ) and all the samples tested positive for viruses. Virus free phototrophic microbes were obtained from plaque assay plates by using a sterile loop to scoop up a virus free portion of the microbial lawn and transferred into a new bioreactor. Isolated cells were confirmed virus free through subsequent plaque assays. Viruses were detected from the bench scale bioreactors of Cyanobacteria Synechocystis PCC 6803 and the environmental samples. Viruses were consistently present through subsequent passage in fresh cultures; demonstrating viral contamination can be a chronic problem. In addition TEM was performed to examine presence or viral attachment to cyanobacterial cells and to characterize viral particles morphology. Electron micrographs obtained confirmed viral attachment and that the viruses detected were all of a similar size and shape. Particle sizes were measured to be approximately 50-60 nm. Cell reduction was observed as a decrease in optical density, with a transition from a dark green to a yellow green color for the cultures. Phototrophic microbial viruses were demonstrated to persist in the natural environment and to cause a reduction in algal populations in the bioreactors. Therefore it is likely that viruses could have a significant impact on microbial biofuel production by limiting the yields of production ponds.

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2014

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Automated monitoring and control systems for an algae photobioreactor

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There has been considerable advancement in the algae research field to move algae production for biofuels and bio-products forward to become commercially viable. However, there is one key element that humans cannot control, the natural externalities that impact production. An

There has been considerable advancement in the algae research field to move algae production for biofuels and bio-products forward to become commercially viable. However, there is one key element that humans cannot control, the natural externalities that impact production. An algae cultivation system is similar to agricultural crop farming practices. Algae are grown on an area of land for a certain time period with the aim of harvesting the biomass produced. One of the advantages of using algae biomass is that it can be used as a source of energy in the form of biofuels. Major advances in algae research and development practices have led to new knowledge about the remarkable potential of algae to serve as a sustainable source of biofuel. The challenge is to make the price of biofuels from algae cost-competitive with the price of petroleum-based fuels. The scope of this research was to design a concept for an automated system to control specific externalities and determine if integrating the system in an algae cultivation system could improve the algae biomass production process. This research required the installation and evaluation of an algae cultivation process, components selection and computer software programming for an automated system. The results from the automated system based on continuous real time monitored variables validated that the developed system contributes insights otherwise not detected from a manual measurement approach. The implications of this research may lead to technology that can be used as a base model to further improve algae cultivation systems.

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2014

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

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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

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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2014