Spiked with Carbon: Effects of Sodium Bicarbonate Manipulation on Algae Growth (Picochlorum oklahomensis)

Nathan Hodges, Kevin Kaiser, Katie Johnson, Emily Thaden


In order to grow algae several key things are required: the nutrients Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium, Air (CO­2), and Sunlight. In our experiment we tested the overall growth and growth rates of groups of algae grown with varying levels of Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO­3-). We hypothesized that when bicarbonate’s presence is lowered it will serve as a limiting factor in algae growth and when it is available in ample measure total algae growth will far surpass that of growth under normal bicarbonate conditions. To test this hypothesis, our experiment utilized three groups of photobioreactors: one control, one group with half the standard amount of bicarbonate, and one group with double the standard amount. Results of our experiment indicated that our predictions were mostly correct by displaying that the reactors with highest level of sodium bicarbonate also showed the most algae growth. While the reactors with only 1 mL of sodium bicarbonate did show less growth, it was not a significant difference to that of the control group.

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