Determining the Most Efficient Nitrogen Source When Growing Algae to Produce More Biofuels

Hannah Lakey, Cassandra Harris, Jordy Gatto, Stephanie Ingraham, Ashley Cast, Traci Richardson


The demand for fuel is increasing as the population increases. Scientists are currently searching for new ways to produce biofuels more efficiently without using crops that could otherwise be used for food, such as corn and soybeans. Algae are made up of oils which can be used in the production of biofuel. In order to produce more fuel, more algae is needed. In order to determine which nitrogen source is more efficient, we constructed two photo bioreactors that would contain one urea based nitrogen source and one nitrate based nitrogen source as explained by French in Investigating Biology. We then allowed the algae to grow for one week, so we could then measure the dry mass of the algae by microwaving the solution away from the algae. After one week of growth, the nitrate bottle solution produced the most algae growth. Although nitrate led to more growth, it will unlikely become the more popular choice for fertilizer because of the high price and physical dangers associated with handling the chemical. Many growers may prefer to use different nitrogen sources. Urea will be the more likely choice by growers because it produces algae growth while not having the explosive capabilities like nitrate, nor the steep price per unit.

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