Reports

Biodiesel from photosynthetic organisms / Biodiesel from photosynthetic organisms

Published:

01/07/2011

Authors:

Sólveig K. Pétursdóttir, Guðmundur Óli Hreggviðsson

Supported by:

Reykjavík Energy's Environment and Energy Fund (UOOR)

contact

Guðmundur Óli Hreggviðsson

Strategy & Stakeholders

gudmundo@matis.is

Biodiesel from photosynthetic organisms / Biodiesel from photosynthetic organisms

The aim of the project was to isolate and cultivate photosynthetic microorganisms that can utilize greenhouse gases from the emissions of geothermal power plants, ie. hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2), while delivering usable products that could potentially be used in biodiesel and feed. Two groups were mainly examined: First, photosynthetic bacteria that utilize H2S and bind CO2 but do not tolerate oxygen (anoxygenic). Second, photosynthetic algae that bind carbon from carbon dioxide and release oxygen (oxygenic). The project was planned to take two years and received funding from UOOR until the previous year. Attempts to isolate and cultivate photosensitive, H2S-utilizing, CO2-binding bacteria were unsuccessful, so the research material was mainly microalgae and bluish-green bacteria that were isolated in the vicinity of geothermal power plants. Species found were 31 in total and the populations grew at different temperatures. Growth rate (g / L / day) was estimated for institutions and also their pigment content (chlorophyll and carotene). The "Nile Red" method for estimating the fat content of microalgae and bluish-green bacteria was tested on several strains, but requires a method development that is planned for the second year of the project. Further attempts to isolate photosensitizing bacteria using H2S are also on the agenda for later years.

The aim of the project was to isolate and cultivate photosynthetic microorganisms able to utilize emission gases from geothermal power plants, ie hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2) and return products which may be used in biodiesel production and feed. Two groups were of particular interest: First, anoxygenic, photosynthetic bacteria utilizing H2S and assimilating CO2; and second, oxygenic, photosynthetic CO2 assimilating microalgae and cyanobacteria. The project was planned for two years of which the first year, described in this report, was funded by UOOR. Attempts made to isolate and cultivate photosynthetic, H2S utilizing, CO2 assimilating micro ‐ organisms were not successful, thus the research material of the project consisted of microalgae and cyanobacteria strains which were isolated from the close vicinities of geothermal power plants. These consisted of 31 species growing at different temperatures. Growth rate (g / L / day) was estimated for the strains as well as estimates of chlorophyll and carotenoids content. A method for estimates of fat content in microalgae ie the Nile Red method was tested on several microalgae and cyanobacteria species. Further development of this method is needed and planned for the next year of the project. Further attempts for isolation of photosynthetic, anoxygenic bacteria species is also planned for the next year of the project.

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