Increasing Biofuel Production: The Effect of Nitrate on Algal Growth

Olivia Craun, Ashlyn Day, Elizabeth Chavarria, Allison Hanna


Strains of algae will soon be more popular as their lipids can be extracted for the production of biofuels. This experiment is a test of the effect Potassium Nitrate has on algal cells, and we have hypothesized that more Potassium Nitrate will increase the amount of algae cells because Nitrate is essential for plant growth. In our experiment we gathered water from a local lake, had a control group with just the water, then added 3 different amounts of Potassium Nitrate to the water in falcon tubes and let the solutions sit for two weeks. We used a compound light microscope to view and count the algal cells, and then the solutions sat for another week to be counted again. The results from the solutions sitting for both two and one week supported our hypothesis in that on average, the more Potassium Nitrate, the higher the algal growth. We have concluded that adding large amounts of Potassium Nitrate will result in a higher number of algae cells up to a certain point, which it then kills the algae cells.

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