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Benefitting from Eutrophication: Accelerated Algae Growth and Oil Extraction

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Dylan Gordon



March 30, 2018

Robert Miller, senior project advisor




Dylan Gordon

Throughout the course of the experiment I will be mimicking the process known as Eutrophication, commonplace in lakes or other bodies of water filled with run away pollution eventually leading to the build up of plant life and the unfortunate death of animal life which plagues ecosystems to this very day. Despite the environmental impact this occurrence may have by isolating and recreating this process using various degrees of added nitrogen and phosphorus I have been able to thus accelerate the rate at which algae is grown without the detrimental effects on animal life that Eutrophication would otherwise have. By accelerating the rate at which algae specifically is grown enables our access to a natural or cleaner oil, which is done through extraction using the hexane solvent method, renown for collecting greater percentages of oil than the standardized press method. This experiment is conducted to ultimately reap cleaner fuel at a more efficient pace.



Description of the Problem

Description of the Problem (Continued)

Literature Review

Literature Review (Continued)

Description of the Problem

Conclusions and Lessons Learned






The reasoning behind the algae experimentation is within the need for a long-term replacement of fossil fuels. A natural biofuel stemming from oil extracted from algae has been continually tested for that very same replacement yet a few problems still are in the way. The first of which is widespread implementation, the United States Department of Energy estimates that that if algae fuel replaced all the petroleum fuel in the United States, 15,000 square mile or 0.42% of the U.S. would be required. The second problem which this experiment attempts to tackle is efficiency. In order for biofuels such as algae oil to be a steady long term replacements for fossil fuels, it would take a consistent, unwavered and steady production in order for any government to take that risk of transition so an efficient production of oil is beyond needed before any further implementation takes hold. The purpose or intent of this project is to prove that by using sources of water that may have fallen victim to Eutrophication with continued pollutants most of which consisting of Nitrogen and Phosphorus runoff, we may alter their purpose or even just mimic the process in order to accelerate algae production. The international lake committee confirms that accelerated or sudden growth of algae are in lakes are due to the process of Eutrophication. Despite international recognition, In order to gain some sort of verification of what degree is best suited for algae growth in this experiment, I will be mimicking as well as isolating this process using various degrees of added nitrogen and phosphorus in order to see which reaps the best result. The experiment is ultimately intended to tackle the problem of inefficiency with a process that has become stigmatized due to how it has plagued various ecosystems.

Description of the problem

The continued use of fossil fuels and associated technologies have continued to plague humankind in various ways and calls for an urgent replacement. One clear demonstration of fossil fuels heavy impact on humankind is carbon emissions. For instance, within industrial cities such as Los Angeles and New York City, the release of carbon pollutants has led to the build up of smog in the air which surrounds densely populated areas thus actively harming civilians within the region. In some cases, the build up of smog and associated emissions of greenhouse gases has been attributed to a rise in illnesses and deaths within the United States as carcinogens in fossil fuels are pushed into the air people breath. California state officials confirms the danger as they claim that , “Roughly 9,000 Californians die annually from diseases caused or aggravated by air pollution”. Carbon emissions are is just one the negative contributions associated with the continued use of fossil fuels, when looking beyond for a safer and environmentally friendly alternative biofuels come to mind, the rationale of this project is to push for further use of biofuels most notable algae based fuels to be produced at an accelerated rate so that one day, the world may push past their dependencies on fossil fuels. Despite the success biofuels are having now such as the U.S. navy using a fleet fueled by algae oil , many Energy CEO’s cite little advancement for lack of use such as Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil and once Secretary of State for the Trump Administration cutting back on advancement prospects and harms it may have on the oil industry. Despite these

setbacks on the use and implementation of biofuels, this project attempts to address the problem energy companies cite with advancement prospects by trying to find what best aids in the growth of algae and associated biofuel which can be produced. Ultimately by studying and further experimenting on the impact Eutrophication may have on algae growth, a more sustainable growth process may lead to a more consistent crop to better become a more sustainable fuel to replace fossil fuels and their limited prospects. The goal of this project is to find which degree of added pollutants in the form of nitrogen and phosphorus equate to most most suitable condition under which algae can successfully grow. Literature



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