Optimizing algae for wastewater remediation (Fall 2015 - Present)

Motivation

  • More than 783 million people globally live without access to clean water. In addition, more than 2.5 billion people globally lack access to adequate sanitation (World Health Organization & United Nation’s Children Fund, 2013)
  • The fossil fuels that power many of our daily activities are predicted to be depleted within the next 100 years (CIA, 2014)
  • Poor water quality isn't just a problem for many developing countries. In fact, there are many cities within the United States (Flint, MI, Baltimore, MD, and Crystal City, TX) facing challenges relating to poor water quality
  • With the ongoing water and environmental crisis, it's vital to continue developing strategies for providing clean, affordable, and sustainable wastewater remediation technologies that can be implemented globally
  • Cultivating green algae within wastewater is a promising technology for addressing these issues

Wastewater contains nutrients that support algal growth

Some examples these nutrients include inorganic (nitrogen and phosphorus containing compounds) as well as many organic compounds. When cultivated within wastewater, algae can use these compounds to grow, while removing them. What makes algae a great candidate for cleaning wastewater is that their biomass (organic matter) can be harvested and used for creating renewable energies (i.e. biofuels and biogas). However, one major flaw of this using green algae for wastewater remediation is that there are some compounds that do not support algal growth. Therefore, it is vital to optimize algae to use these additional compounds in order to efficiently clean wastewater as well as increase algal biomass for renewable energy production.

My master's thesis research involves optimizing an alga for wastewater remediation

My master's thesis research involves metabolically engineering the green alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, in order to optimize it for wastewater remediation and renewable energy production. Stay tuned for project updates and publications about ongoing work!

The green microalga,  Chlmaydomonas reinhardtii , grown on Tris-Acetate-Phosphate (TAP) medium.

The green microalga, Chlmaydomonas reinhardtii, grown on Tris-Acetate-Phosphate (TAP) medium.

References:

CIA. (2014). The World Factbook 2013-14. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html

World Health Organisation, & United Nation’s Children Fund. (2013). WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. Retrieved from http://www.wssinfo.org/data-estimates/table/