Fuel for our Future

Team: 22

School: Los Lunas High

Area of Science: Botany

Interim: Problem Definition:
Algae is a single-cell, non-flowering plant that grows in ponds, fish bowls, or even in dog bowls. Besides being a nuisance, algae have potential uses in applications in the biofuel, medical, and agriculture fields. An issue of growing algae is finding an efficient way of growing the algae at an inexpensive cost. The cost of growing and converting it into a biofuel varies from the process also the type of strain of algae is used, prices starting from $32.81 to $109.12 a gallon. These reasons are why we don’t use algae to its fullest potential even though it can be used to help fertilize crops and could be a substitute for fossil fuel.

Problem Solution:
We plan to create a computational model of the algae we have, nannochloropsis oculata. We will grow a controlled group of algae of one milliliter to one milliliter of algae to the nutrient solution in nine wells of a twenty-four well plate. The nutrient solution contains 24 parts per thousandths grams and 1 part per thousandths milliliters into 100 milliliters of water. The plates are placed on an orbital shaker under LED lights and are shaken at 95 rotations a minute for ten minutes twice a day. Then we will change small factors that contribute to the algae's growth such as the amount of salt in the nutrient solution and the amount of light the algae receive.
We have some pictures of the controlled group of algae and pictures of algae growing without light, but we still need to run these experiments two more times to identify a trend the algae goes by while growing in those conditions. We also have the data of algae growing in a range of salt in the nutrient solutions. We plan to use the data we have now and start creating the computational model using python and adjust as we move along.

Expected results:
We expect to create a computational model that could be used to find the most affectionate way of growing algae. We also expect to have the model show what will happen if the algae are grown when the variables are changed. We hope to give botanists an easier way of growing algae and hopefully sets us one step forward in eventually using algae to produce fuel and lower our carbon emissions.

Hamidi, Nurkholis, et al. “Potential and Properties of Marine Microalgae Nannochloropsis Oculata as Biomass Fuel Feedstock.” SpringerLink, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 29 Aug. 2014, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40095-014-0138-9.
Hannon, Michael, et al. “Biofuels from Algae: Challenges and Potential.” Biofuels, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3152439/.
Kanellos, Michael. “Algae Biodiesel: It's $33 a Gallon.” Greentech Media, Greentech Media, 3 Feb. 2009, https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/algae-biodiesel-its-33-a-gallon-5652.
Klass, Sarah. “Algae as a Biofuel.” Algae as a Biofuel, 28 Nov. 2018, http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2018/ph240/klass1/.
Wen, Zhiyou. “Algae for Biofuel Production.” Farm Energy, 12 Apr. 2019, https://farm-energy.extension.org/algae-for-biofuel-production/.

Names: Delsin Jaramillo, Edwin Fernandez
Mentors: Abe Anderson, Creighton Eddington

Team Members:

  Delsin Jaramillo
  Edwin Fernandez

Sponsoring Teacher: Anne Loveless

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