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Title:Mechanical algal disruption for efficient biodiesel extraction
Author(s):Krehbiel, Joel David
Director of Research:Freund, Jonathan B.; Schideman, Lance C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Freund, Jonathan B.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Ewoldt, Randy H.; Hilgenfeldt, Sascha
Department / Program:Mechanical Science & Engineering
Discipline:Theoretical & Applied Mechanics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):algal biofuel
areal strain
specific cell disruption energy
Stokes equation
finite element
Abstract:Biodiesel from algae provides several benefits over current biodiesel feedstocks, but the energy requirements of processing algae into a useable fuel are currently so high as to be prohibitive. One route to improving this is via disruption of the cells prior to lipid extraction, which can significantly increase energy recovery. Unfortunately, several obvious disruption techniques require more energy than can be gained. This dissertation examines the use of microbubbles to improve mechanical disruption of algal cells using experimental, theoretical, and computational methods. New laboratory experiments show that effective ultrasonic disruption of algae is achieved by adding microbubbles to an algal solution. The configuration studied flows the solution through a tube and insonifies a small section with a high-pressure ultrasound wave. Previous biomedical research has shown effective cell membrane damage on animal cells with similar methods, but the present research is the first to extend such study to algal cells. Results indicate that disruption increases with peak negative pressure between 1.90 and 3.07 MPa and with microbubble concentration up to 12.5 × 10^7 bubbles/ml. Energy estimates of this process suggest that it requires only one-fourth the currently most-efficient laboratory-scale disruption process. Estimates of the radius near each bubble that causes disruption (i.e. the disruption radius) suggest that it increases with peak negative pressure and is near 9–20 μm for all cases tested. It is anticipated that these procedures can be designed for better efficiency and efficacy, which will be facilitated by identifying the root mechanisms of the bubble-induced disruption. We therefore examine whether bubble expansion alone creates sufficient cell deformation for cell rupture. The spherically-symmetric Marmottant model for bubble dynamics allows estimation of the flow regime under experimental conditions. Bubble expansion is modeled as a point source of mass at the bubble center, and if the bubble-to-cell spacing is much larger than the cell radius, the flow around the cell is approximately extensional in the cell’s frame of reference. It is known that the present algae are quasi-spherical with cytoplasmic viscosity approximately 100 times that of water, so the cell is approximated as a viscous sphere. Thus, conditions that cause cell disruption from an expanding microbubble are modeled as either steady inviscid extensional flow or steady point source flow over a viscous sphere. In the inviscid extensional flow model, the flow inside the sphere is dominated by viscous forces so the Stokes equation is solved with matched stresses at the sphere surface from the exterior inviscid extensional flow. The short-time deformation of the sphere surface suggests that inviscid extensional flow is insufficient to disrupt cells. This indicates that asymmetry of the flow over the sphere may be required to provide sufficient surface areal strain to rupture the cell. In a more detailed model, the bubble expansion is modeled as an expansion near a viscous sphere using finite element software. For conditions similar to those seen in the experiment, deformation shows similar scaling to disruption. The deformation in this model is significantly higher than predicted from the inviscid extensional flow model due to the effect of asymmetric flow on the cell membrane. Estimates suggest 21% average areal strain on the algal membrane is required to disrupt algal cells, and this result agrees well with areal strains typically required to disrupt cell membranes although the actual value would be lessened by the effect of an elastic membrane, which is neglected in the present model. The local areal strain on the sphere surface is a maximum closest to the point source, and there is compressive strain near θ = ±π/4 with θ the angle from the line between the cell center and the point source. The maximum local areal strain shows less sensitivity to the viscosity of the interior fluid than the average areal strain. Overall, the dissertation lays the groundwork for more efficient algal disruption through the judicious use of microbubbles. Separation of bubble generation and bubble growth provides the ability to improve the efficiency of each process and localize energy. Results suggest that effective disruption can occur by pulsing high-pressure ultrasound waves to a solution of cells co-suspended with microbubbles. The models are thought to represent basic phenomenological mechanisms of disruption that could be exploited to improve the overall energy efficiency of schemes. Analysis suggests that extensional flow alone cannot be the cause of cell disruption near an expanding microbubble. Additionally, this work provides an estimate of the areal strain required disrupt an algal cell membrane. This research suggests a couple routes toward reducing the energy required for production of algal biodiesel.
Issue Date:2015-07-08
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Joel Krehbiel
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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