Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering


Ching An Peng


There is no doubt that sufficient energy supply is indispensable for the fulfillment of our fossil fuel crises in a stainable fashion. There have been many attempts in deriving biodiesel fuel from different bioenergy crops including corn, canola, soybean, palm, sugar cane and vegetable oil. However, there are some significant challenges, including depleting feedstock supplies, land use change impacts and food use competition, which lead to high prices and inability to completely displace fossil fuel [1-2]. In recent years, use of microalgae as an alternative biodiesel feedstock has gained renewed interest as these fuels are becoming increasingly economically viable, renewable, and carbon-neutral energy sources. One reason for this renewed interest derives from its promising growth giving it the ability to meet global transport fuel demand constraints with fewer energy supplies without compromising the global food supply.

In this study, Chlorella protothecoides microalgae were cultivated under different conditions to produce high-yield biomass with high lipid content which would be converted into biodiesel fuel in tandem with the mitigation of high carbon dioxide concentration. The effects of CO2 using atmospheric and 15% CO2 concentration and light intensity of 35 and 140 µmol m-2s-1 on the microalgae growth and lipid induction were studied. The approach used was to culture microalgal Chlorella protothecoides with inoculation of 1×105 cells/ml in a 250-ml Erlenmeyer flask, irradiated with cool white fluorescent light at ambient temperature. Using these conditions we were able to determine the most suitable operating conditions for cultivating the green microalgae to produce high biomass and lipids. Nile red dye was used as a hydrophobic fluorescent probe to detect the induced intracellular lipids. Also, gas chromatograph mass spectroscopy was used to determine the CO2 concentrations in each culture flask using the closed continuous loop system. The goal was to study how the 15% CO2 concentration was being used up by the microalgae during cultivation. The results show that the condition of high light intensity of 140 µmol m-2s-1 with 15% CO2 concentration obtain high cell concentration of 7 x 105 cells mL-1 after culturing Chlorella protothecoides for 9 to 10 day in both open and closed systems respectively. Higher lipid content was estimated as indicated by fluorescence intensity with 1.3 to 2.5 times CO2 reduction emitted by power plants. The particle size of Chlorella protothecoides increased as well due to induction of lipid accumulation by the cells when culture under these condition (140 µmol m-2s-1 with 15% CO2 concentration).