Sustainable Methods Of Cultivating And Processing Microalgal Biomass From Wastewater To Produce Various Renewable Industrial Bioproducts



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Microalgae are microscopic photosynthetic prokaryotic or eukaryotic organisms that naturally grow in fresh or marine water in the presence of sunlight. Algae are capable of sequestering nutrients from water and accumulate them as their body mass. In the past few decades, algal biomass has been investigated by the scientific community because of their promising applications in producing renewable food, feed, fuels and chemicals. Additionally, microalgae’s ability to fix large amounts of CO2 has led researchers to investigate microalgae as an alternative way of combating climate change by sequestering flue gas containing CO2 emitted from industries such as coal power plants and petroleum refineries. Despite developing methods to produce wide ranges of renewable bioproducts from microalgae, there are some obstacles to overcome such as, high algal biomass cultivation costs and expensive downstream batch processing steps. This thesis study is focused on sustainable methods of cultivating and processing microalgal biomass from wastewater to produce various renewable industrial bioproducts. First, this thesis aims to compare the different methods of microalgae cultivation, harvesting, separation, and processing techniques to aid the microalgae biotechnology industry’s ability to economically produce sustainable bioproducts while reducing carbon emissions. Second, this thesis analyzes the possibility of producing algal biomass in three large wastewater treatment facility in Texas. Subsequently, we evaluated the sequestration of CO2 produced during combustion of biogas producing algal biomass using Rotating Algal Biofilm (RAB) methods. Third, a model was developed to study the conversion of algal biomass produced in small water treatment facilities in Texas to various bioproducts (bioethanol, biosuccinic acid, biodiesel, biocrude, Non-Isocyanate Polyurethane Foam (NIPU), and mixed alcohols). Developing methods of using algal biomass as feed stock producing renewable bioproducts will displace fossil fuel derived products, generate new jobs and benefit our environment.



Bioproducts, Microalgae, Wastewater