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Sustainable Energy Education: Biofuels from Solar-Powered Algae Cultures

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Using Real-World Examples

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

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Paper Authors


Michael G Mauk P.E. Drexel University

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Michael Mauk is Assistant Professor in Drexel University's Engineering Technology program.

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Richard Chiou Drexel University

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Dr. Richard Chiou is Associate Professor within the Engineering Technology Department at Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA. He received his Ph.D. degree in the G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. His educational background is in manufacturing with an emphasis on mechatronics. In addition to his many years of industrial experience, he has taught many different engineering and technology courses at undergraduate and graduate levels. His tremendous research experience in manufacturing includes environmentally conscious manufacturing, Internet based robotics, and Web based quality. In the past years, he has been involved in sustainable manufacturing for maximizing energy and material recovery while minimizing environmental impact.

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Ieva Narkeviciute Stanford University

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Ieva Narkeviciute received her B.S. (2012) in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she worked in the laboratory of Prof. George Huber on biomass conversion to biofuels. She received her M.S. (2015) in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and is currently a 5th-year Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Prof. Thomas Jaramillo. Her thesis work focuses on developing tantalum nitride semiconductors as photoanodes for photoelectrochemical water splitting—the process of using solar energy to directly split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

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Gabriel K. Head University of Pennsylvania

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Renewable, Green, and Sustainable energy utilizing photovoltaics and wind power are well-established in educational laboratories and as topics for student projects. Biofuels are expected to be another cornerstone of future energy scenarios. The prospects for harvesting plants or microorganisms for biomaterial that can be processed into liquid or solid fuels, such as replacements for diesel fuel (‘biodiesel”) are continually improving and nearing feasibility for large-scale implementation. In this paper, we report student projects for solar-powered algae culture on desktop-sized demonstration systems built out of low-cost plastic materials for outdoor operation. Circulating algae culture (seeded with inexpensive ( $10) algae purchased from educational laboratory supply houses) systems, equipped with consumer-grade pumps and instrumented with low-cost sensors powered by solar cells, can be monitored and optimized for biomass yield. We will provide details enabling schools to facilitate educational laboratories and student projects in solar biomass algae culture

Mauk, M. G., & Chiou, R., & Narkeviciute, I., & Head, G. K. (2017, June), Sustainable Energy Education: Biofuels from Solar-Powered Algae Cultures Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28893

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