Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Holbrook, Gabriel P.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Biological Sciences


Biology; Power resources


This research was conducted to evaluate the potential for growth of Monoraphidium sp. Dek19 using side streams from an ethanol plant for culture medium. Additionally, the potential of using enzymes to break down the cell wall material to release fermentable sugars and oil was examined. The ethanol streams selected were methanator influent, methanator effluent, and thin stillage. This species of microalgae has been previously studied and found to have the ability to grow in and remediate the effluent water from the DeKalb Sanitary District (DSD). The Monoraphidium sp. Dek19 was grown in various concentrations of the ethanol plant side streams concurrently with algae cultures grown in the DSD effluent. The algae cultures were grown in 250ml flasks to determine the optimal concentrations of the ethanol streams. The concentrations with the growth rate and cell counts closest to or higher than the DSD effluents were selected for further examination. These concentrations were repeated to evaluate the most optimal growth conditions using the ethanol streams in comparison to the DSD effluent grown algae. The selected growth condition for the ethanol streams was determined to be using the methanator effluent as the base water component with the thin stillage added to a 2% concentration. The 2% concentration showed an average increase in cell count to be 8.49% higher than the control cell count. The methanator influent was discarded as a base water component, as the growth of the algae was 40.18% less than that of the control. Other concentrations considered resulted in a decrease in cell count ranging from 9.20-48.97%. The three closest growth results of the concentration of thin stillage and methanator effluent (1%, 2%, and 4%) were scaled up to 2L flasks to confirm the results on a larger scale. The results showed a greater reduction in the cell count of the 1% and 4% concentrations, 23.52% and 16.31% reduction in cell count respectively. The 2% concentration showed a similar increase in cell count as before at 12.59% increase in cell count over the control. The 2% concentration algae growth cultures were grown exclusively alongside of the control group of DSD effluent grown algae. The solutions were grown to carrying capacity and the algae biomass was extracted from the solution by centrifugation and air drying in a dehydrator. This was repeated until enough biomass was collected to conduct rehydration and a typical anaerobic fermentation process. The resuspended algae were pH adjusted to a pH of 5.2 ±0.2. The algae were treated with a combination of cellulase and alpha-amylase, and put through a liquefaction process at 80°C for 3 hours. The resulting solutions were analyzed using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to evaluate the sugar profile of each treatment. The liquefaction solutions were treated with further enzymes, nutrients, and yeast and ran through an anaerobic fermentation process. The fermentations were allowed to progress for 72 hours, and were again analyzed using an HPLC for ethanol and sugar profile. The fermentation results showed a potential of up to 0.587%w/v ethanol production in a 10% solids microalgae slurry. The remaining fermentation products were analyzed using a petroleum ether lipid extraction unit. This analysis showed that the DSD effluent microalgae had an average of 15.53% lipid content on a dry matter basis, and the methanator effluent with 2% thin stillage added resulted in 28.02% lipid content on a dry matter basis. The fermentation products were also treated with a demulsifier, spun down with a centrifuge, and examination of a released lipid layer was conducted. This analysis showed that there was a thin layer of oil on almost all treatments of the algae solutions when spun down in a centrifuge. These results indicate that the cellulosic enzymes broke down the cell wall material sufficiently for the quick extraction of the oil without the use of hexane. The entirety of the resulting analysis showed that Monoraphidium sp. Dek19 is a viable option for growth using the side streams from an ethanol plant and the use of enzymes will breakdown the biomass of the algae for production of cellulosic ethanol. Additionally, the extraction of oil can be performed in a quicker and safer manner.


Advisors: Gabriel Holbrook.||Committee members: Scott Grayburn; Shengde Zhou.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


vi, 72 pages




Northern Illinois University

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