Maria I. Monteverde, Juan C. Flores, and Jose A. Colucci. Chemical Engineering Department University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus, Mayaguez, PR 00680
During decades micro algae have been studied for its nutritional potential value. Recently, other applications involving the use of this common and big contributor to aquatic life organism has emerged. At this time, the technology has improved in such manner that the possibility to produce fuel in the form of oils using this living organism as the raw material is a reality. Studies performed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) indicate that the oil productivity (pounds/acre-year) of micro algae could be 20 times higher than the best oil producing crop. In this project we will investigate the algae Scenedesmus obliquus which composition demonstrates a big percent of oil. By using Scenedesmus obliquus, which is part of our ecosystem and is very accessible, a more environmental friendly and renewal fuel can be produced. The reproduction of this algae will be achieved using its usual pathway, photosynthesis, taking in consideration its natural ecosystem and creating a setup that includes the correct proportion of carbon dioxide and visible light to reproduce them as in its natural environment. Then, to extract oil more efficiently, the well known method of “expeller/press” will be used to remove the oil produced by this algae. At last but no least, the feasibility of producing biodiesel from this kind of oil will be analyzed and assessed.