A NOVEL ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY METHOD FOR LIPID EXTRACTION FOR BIOFUEL PRODUCTION
Two potential algae strains, Chlorella vulgaris and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, were cultured under the same conditions controlled with a photobioreactor that was designed by the student for inexpensive and continued use. After 2 weeks of culturing, the two species were placed into their respective baths of 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20% salt concentrations. Salt was chosen because it is reusable and cheap; it will create a hypertonic solution in which the algae will shrink and excrete lipids. FT-IR ATR spectroscopy was used to collect data on the concentration and presence of lipids in the algae. Nile red was used to depict the decrease of lipids in the algae. It was found that in the 20% bath, both species of algae experienced a statistically significant decrease in the lipid concentration after the 3rd week. Osmotic pressure is confirmed as viable in removing lipids from Chlorella vulgaris and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The current gold standard of lipid removal, Bligh-Dyer Method, yields only 22% total lipid concentration. Most notably, the experimental group for Chlorella vulgaris, at 20% salt concentration, had 74.5% total lipids extracted. If osmotic pressure could be effectively used to harvest a significant amount lipids from algae, then the market for biofuels could potentially increase. In this experiment, salt instead of chemicals like chloroform and methanol was used. The salt creates an inexpensive and environmentally friendly alternative to these chemicals. It is inexpensive because of its abundance and can be reused many times, therefore saving resources. This experiment provides a reproducible cleaner and cheaper method for lipid extraction in Chlorella vulgaris and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.