The selective use of chlorine to inhibit algal predators and avoid pond crashes for the algae-biodiesel industry
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As algae-derived biofuel is a promising renewable energy source, it is well-established that micro-algae have the potential to make a significant contribution to transportation fuel demand. Although it has many advantages including high areal productivity, there are many negative factors. One of these factors is the predation of algae by amoebas, protozoans, ciliates and rotifers, particularly in open pond systems. For example, the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis, is able to eat as much as 12,000 algae cells per hour and can be responsible for an entire pond crash within days. Thus, these higher organisms need to be controlled in order to satisfy large-scale algae crop and biofuel production demand. One method of predation control involves the introduction of a toxic chemical to an algal culture that the predator has a higher sensitivity to with respect to algae. Ideally, predation could be minimized or eliminated without a substantial effect on the algal culture growth. Chlorella kessleri was used as the algal culture and Brachionus calyciflorus as the source of predation. Research was conducted in five stages. First, chlorine dissipation tests were carried out using spring water, distilled water, Bolds Basal Medium (BBM), and three different dry weights of algal suspension in order to analyze the dissipation rate of the residual chlorine. The results showed that chlorine in distilled water and spring water rarely dissipated while chlorine concentration in algal suspension rapidly decreased by a maximum of 90% within the second hour. Second, acute chlorine toxicity tests were conducted in order to find the 24-hr LC50 of B. calyciflorus. The 24-hr LC50 of the test animal was 0.198 mg Cl/L. Third, chlorine toxicity tests were conducted in order to find the LC50 of Chlorella kessleri. The 24-hr LC50 of C. kessleri was 0.321 mg Cl/L. Based on these results, the test animal was more sensitive to chlorine than the test algae; therefore chlorine may be used to avoid algae pond crashes by B. calyciflorus. Fourth, C. kessleri and B. calyciflorus were combined into one test to determine how long it would take to observe an algal culture crash. The result demonstrated that the higher the population of predators in algal suspension, the faster it crashed. Finally, chlorine, C. kessleri, and B. calyciflorus were combined into one test to determine what chlorine concentration and dosing interval was needed to significantly reduce predation without significantly reducing algae growth. The results of the fifth experiment showed that the effective intermittent chlorine concentration was between 0.45 and 0.60 mg Cl/L, and a short interval of chlorine dosing was effective in inhibiting rotifers in algal suspension. Even though the rotifers in algal suspension were inhibited by 0.45 to 0.60 mg Cl/L, algae growth was greatly inhibited by chlorine. In this respect, future work is needed to reduce the effect on algae by chlorine or alternative chemicals.