Microalgae biomass as fermentation feedstock

Tijjani-Oshungboye, Kubura (2011) Microalgae biomass as fermentation feedstock. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The search for alternative energy is as a result of pollution generated by the utilization of fossil fuel. Bearing in mind the increase in demand which exceeds supply, alternative energy must reduce the carbon foot print in order to relieve use of fossil fuels. Biogas generation from wastes is an old technology that has been in existence for decades. This same concept was behind the development of the integrated algae ponding system (IAPS), where the use of microalgae biomass is adopted for waste water treatment and, anaerobic digestion which is a component of the IAPS, simultaneously generates biogas. The biogas from the IAPS was quantified in order to evaluate efficiency of the system and the anaerobic fermentation pit was also simulated in the laboratory to optimize biogas production using microalgae as co-fermentation feedstock. Microalgae biomass was evaluated as potential feedstock for ethanol fermentation and the use of biogas was investigated as an alternative transportation fuel. In an IAPS substantial biomass is produced on an annual basis. For effective treatment of waste water and efficient nutrient removal continuous harvest of the biomass is required. In the present study, water treatment efficiency of the EBRU IAPS was determined by carrying out a series of tests to investigate the decline in nutrient content from port of influent entry to effluent discharge. There was more than a 60% reduction in nutrient content with a concomitant increase in biomass and growth rate of 0.25 g/L . Biogas generated from the IAPS was quantified using a flow meter and the composition determined by gas chromatography. Methane which is the principal constituent of biogas was 75% (±SD, n=10) and 2.34 m³ d⁻¹ was measured as biogas yield from the EBRU lAPS. The study also investigated the use of the excess microalgae biomass as a fermentation feedstock for ethanol production and as a co-substrate in order to increase biogas yield from the system. Positive results were achieved for ethanol production from microalgae although yield was generally low. About 385 mg.g⁻¹ of ethanol was recovered when glucose was used as substrate, where as only 115 mg.g⁻¹ of ethanol was recovered with microalgae as substrate. Suitability of microalgae as feedstock for ethanol generation and biogas generation was determined by characterisation which involved estimation of the carbohydrate, protein and lipid content, and analysis of the C, H, 0, Nand S content. Laboratory fed batch reactors simulated the anaerobic digestion process in order to study the effect of microalgae biomass as co-substrate for biogas generation. The fermenters were inoculated with an active consortium obtained from the Makana municipal waste water works and microbial studies were carried to confirm the presence of the anaerobic consortium. Different pre-treatments (concentrated, rupturing and freeze-drying) were used to disrupt the microalgae prior to introduction into fermenters in a ratio of 3:1, COD, TC, TOC, SO₄⁻², and TN analyses were carried out to monitor nutrient depletion in the system, and biogas generated by the system was quantified by volumetric analysis and the gas composition determined. Statistical analysis (ANOVA) was used to test for significant difference pre and post addition of microalgae. In the most effective fermenter, biogas production was at an average of 394 mL.d⁻¹ and CH₄ ratio in the biogas increased by over a 100%. Theoretical methane potential of the IAPS and the Makana municipal waste water works treating 5 ML.d⁻¹ of domestic waste was determined using the empirical formula of waste water and shown to yield 1,037,342.40 m³/Yr. The projected biogas yield from this system was used to evaluate its potential use as transportation fuel. In total, 198,673.55 m³ of biogas was estimated to be required to fuel the Rhodes University's fleet of vehicles, with a residual biogas stream of 838,668.85 m³. It was also demonstrated in the present study that renewable energy sourced from biomass has the potential of supplanting the use of fossil fuel resulting in less pollution leading to a cleaner and healthier environment.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Microalgae, Biotechnology, Biomass conversion, Fuel switching, Renewable energy sources, Sewage, Purification, Anaerobic treatment, Biogas, Fermentation
Subjects:T Technology > TP Chemical technology > Biotechnology
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Environmental Biotechnology Research Unit (EBRU)
Supervisors:Cowan, Ashton Keith
ID Code:2957
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:07 Jun 2012 09:36
Last Modified:07 Jun 2012 09:36
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