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Building the Basis for the Improvement of Microalgae Oil Production Systems Efficiency Through the Quantification and Model Integration of Fundamental Biological and Physiological Processes

2011 USDA-NIFA Seed Award

Principal Investigators and affiliations:
PI:   Dr. Carlos Fernandez (Texas AgriLife Research, Texas AgriLife Research & Extensions Center Corpus Christi Texas A & M University)
Co-PI:  Dr. Joe Fox (Texas A&M University Corpus Christi)
Co-PI:  Dr. Barbara Benson (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Funded: $160,000
Start Date: 11/1/2011

End Date: 10/31/2014


Expected Outcomes

The overarching goal of this proposal is to build the basis for the improvement of the efficiency of microalgae oil production systems through the quantification and integration by mechanistic modeling of fundamental processes governing the growth and lipid production of microalgae cultures.


The following are the expected outcomes:


  1. Accurate characterization and mechanistic simulation model of the light environment in FACE 4 Bioreactors culturing Nannochloropsis salina.
  2. Quantitative relationship between the light dynamics and growth kinetics of Nannochloropsis salina.
  3. Quantitative responses of photosynthesis, respiration, growth in terms of carbon, dry biomass, and lipid production of Nannochloropsis salina at low, medium, and high cell concentrations (populations) to combinations of photosynthetic photo flux densities, water temperature and CO2 supply.
  4. Quantitative characterization of the efficiency of conversion of biomass and the coefficient of maintenance respiration of Nannochloropsis salina.
  5. A mechanistic simulation model of Nannochloropsis salina growth and lipid production integrating fundamental governing processes and their dependence on primary environmental factors.
  6. Technical reports and peer-reviewed publications with results emerging from studies conducted in this project.
  7. Results emerging from this project will contribute with a solid basis for the improvement of microalgae-based oil production systems.
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