EPA P3


EPA Agreement Number: SU836132

Project Title: Algae Biofuel Osmosis Dewatering (ABODE): A novel process for biofuel feedstock generation and advances in microalgae separation using forward osmosis



Faculty Advisor

Dr. Woo Hyoung Lee, P.E., Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering, University of Central Florida,
(407)-823-5304
WooHyoung.Lee@ucf.edu
web site

 


 

EPA's P3 – People, Prosperity and the Planet—Program (https://www.epa.gov/P3) is a unique college competition for designing solutions for a sustainable future. The P3 competition highlights the use of scientific principle in creating innovative projects focused on sustainability. The P3 Award program was developed to foster progress toward sustainability by achieving the mutual goals of improved quality of life, economic prosperity and protection of the planet - people, prosperity, and the planet.

EPA Agreement Number: SU836132

Project Title: Algae Biofuel Osmosis Dewatering (ABODE): A novel process for biofuel feedstock generation and advances in microalgae separation using forward osmosis

Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016

Faculty Advisor(s), Departments and Institutions: Dr. Woo Hyoung Lee, P.E., Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering, University of Central Florida, E-mail: woohyoung.lee@ucf.edu, website URL: http://cece.ucf.edu/people/Lee.

Schematic diagram of the proposed ABODE process
consisting of a photobioreactor and a forward osmosis chamber system

 

Expected outcomes and relationship of challenge to sustainability: aspects of sustainability
focusing on people, prosperity and the planet for the proposed ABODE system

 

 

 

Student Team Members, Departments and Institutions:

  • Rebecca McLean (Undergraduate): Student Team Leader
    • Expertise: Environmental Engineering, Chemistry, and Environmental Sustainability
    • Contribution to the P3 team: ABODE process design and operation, batch tests for algae biomass and lipid productivity investigation, and system performance analysis
  • Nicholas Maier (Undergraduate)
    • Expertise: Environmental Engineering
    • Contribution to the P3 team: Evaluation of forward osmosis (FO) chamber operations and optimal draw solution determination
  • Matthew Rudolph (Undergraduate)
    • Expertise: Biology
    • Contribution to the P3 team: lipid production improvement in algae biomass
  • Jared Church (Graduate student)
    • Expertise: Biochemistry and Environmental Engineering
    • Contribution to the P3 team: ABODE process design and batch tests/experiments design, data analysis, and mentoring undergraduate students
    • 2015-2016 University Award for the Outstanding Master’s Thesis, University of Central Florida, 2016
  • Faris Munshi (Graduate student)
    • Expertise: Environmental Engineering
    • Contribution to the P3 team: Evaluation of forward osmosis (FO) chamber operations and optimal draw solution determination
  • Dr. Jae-Hoon Hwang (Post-doctoral researcher)
    • Expertise: Environmental Engineering
    • Contribution to the P3 team: ABODE process design and batch tests/experiments design, data analysis, and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students

 

[UCF EPA P3 Team]

 

 

Project Summary

Objective: The proposed research project will establish and advance fundamentals associated with a ‘waste–products’ vision centered on recycling organic waste to a biofuel. Almost seven billion humans on earth today are dependent on fossil energy as a major energy source. Over the coming decades, it will be increasingly prudent to develop and implement strategies for obtaining sustainable energy. This is to not only reduce the quantity of carbon and greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere, but to also achieve a reliable domestic energy source. There is clear motivation to use algae as a biofuel feedstock due to its rapid growth rate and high lipid to biomass ratio compared to other crops traditionally used for biofuels. Algae production capitalizes on sensible land and water use as well as algae's natural ability to uptake nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which would otherwise further derogate waterways through eutrophication. Despite the lengthy list of benefits offered by algae-based biofuel, full-scale implementation of algae as a bioenergy source has been prohibitively expensive. To overcome some of the economic barriers for implementing algae-biostock production, this research aims to integrate previously studied methods for increasing efficiency and lowering production costs in algae cultivation. Our process, termed ABODE (Algae Biofuel Osmosis Dewatering), involves a photobioreactor for the growth of algae using secondary waste water with an attached forward osmosis (FO) extraction process to dewater the algae for bioenergy production using sustainable, low-cost draw solutions.

Schematic diagram of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 for P3 project
FO system for algae separation (ABODE system)
Algae photobioreactor

 

SEM images of FO membrane: algae fouling on FO membrane surface

  • Description: The research objectives of this study are three-fold: (1) to design and construct a bioreactor for the purpose of growing algae, as well as to extract said algae using FO; (2) to evaluate different draw solutions in order to optimize algae collection while minimizing cost and resources; and (3) to determine the most suitable growing conditions for algae in this environment.  The described ABODE process is expected to positively affect the planet by treating waste water, capturing greenhouse gases and reducing the carbon footprint of energy dependent applications like power plants and vehicle emissions. The ABODE process will generate economic prosperity by creating and maintaining domestic jobs and bioenergy production. People would benefit from the ABODE processed by generating improved national security with the internalization of bioenergy production and enhanced quality of life through less polluted water and air. Overall, the ABODE process creates a sustainable approach for meeting society's energy needs.  An interdisciplinary student team at UCF will emphasis the “learning” concept and integrate knowledge basis from process design to feasibility study of biofuel feedstock generation, representing potentially transformative research in wastewater treatment and waste management. Results of this P3 project will be assessed to determine the most effective A&WMA program linkages: a webinar will be produced and delivered in the summer of 2016. This will provide an appropriate avenue to promote sustainability practices in a community.
  • Results: This project aims to develop a more sustainable means of growing and collecting algae as a bioenergy source. The proposed system is a comprehensive method that seeks to maximize lipid productivity in the growth phase of our system, and then uses sustainable and low energy techniques to easily collect the algae so its lipids can be extracted. This project is ambitious in the sense that it encompasses multiple phases of algal-biofuel processing. However, since algae is a difficult bioenergy source to produce economically, it is important to design an all inclusive system that has the lowest possible energy requirements. Every component of the proposed ABODE system will be evaluated for its maximum productivity. It is expected that our system will turn algae biofuel into an economically achievable energy source by exceeding the benchmark energy return on investment (EROI) of 3:1.

Contribution to Pollution Prevention or Control: This project aims to remove organic/nutrient contaminants using a photosynthetic algae process to prevent and reduce water pollution while producing biofuel feedstock and to separate the algae from the wastewater using an innovative FO process (CWA: Clean Water Act--Section 104). In order to further reduce atmospheric carbon emissions, the large-scale implementation of biofuels along with other alternative energy sources will be increasingly necessary. Biofuels such as algae, still emit carbon into the atmosphere, but unlike the use of fossil fuel, biofuels are carbon neutral. Additionally, the proposed ABODE system uses wastewater as a feedstock, so excess nitrogen and phosphate are taken up by the algae. This will effectively reduce the amount of water pollution that is released from wastewater treatment plants.

Supplementary Keywords: Algae, Algae separation, Biofuel feedstock, Forward osmosis, Sustainability, Wastewater


 

 

Publications/Presentations:
  1. Hwang, J.H., Church, J., Lee, S.J., Park, J.S and Lee, W.H., Microalgae in wastewater: Opportunities for advanced wastewater treatment and sustainable bioenergy production, Environmental Engineering Science (Submitted)
  2. Church, J., McLean, R., Hwang, J-H., and Lee, W.H., Sodium Ion Effect on Nutrient Recovery of Wastewater Using Microalgae, Proceedings, 89th Annual Water Environmental Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference, New Orleans, Sept. 24-28, 2016 (Submitted).
  3. Church, J., McLean, R., Munshi, F., Hwang, J-H., Maier, N., Rudolph, M., and Lee, W.H., A novel process for biofuel feedstock generation and advances in microalgae separation using forward osmosis, 2016 National Sustainable Design Expo, Washington DC, Apr. 15-17, 2016
  4. McLean, R., Church, J., Hwang, J-H., and Lee, W.H., “Sodium ion-effect" on Chlorella vulgaris as a Means of Increasing Lipid Production for Bioenergy, 13th Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE), University of Central Florida, April 7, 2016 (Submitted)
  5. Harris, R., Hwang, J-H, and Lee, W.H., Photo-fermentation for Biological Hydrogen Production using Organic Wastes, 13th Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE), University of Central Florida, April 7, 2016 (Submitted)

Relevant Websites:

  1. Biomass projects, Orlando Utility Commission (OUC), http://www.ouc.com/environment-community/green-initiatives/renewables/biomass-projects
  2. IDEAS presents THIS IS THE HIVE,
  3. The City of Orlando's Green initiatives, http://www.cityoforlando.net/greenworks/energy-and-green-buildings/
  4. UCF monthly Faculty Spotlight under UCF Sustainability Initiatives (http://sustainable.ucf.edu/facultyqa/lee), by Hannah Hollinger, Sustainability Initiatives, Feb. 2, 2016.
  5. UCF Students Make School History -- Win EPA Grant for Sustainability Project (http://today.ucf.edu/ucf-students-make-school-history-win-epa-grant-for-sustainability-project/), by Aileen Perilla, UCF Today, Dec. 23, 2015

 

Partnerships

For P3 project, the partnerships (educational institution, industry and/or NGOs) are very strongly important to provide a great advantage to the intended users and/or society more generally.

Mainstream Engineering Corporation (http://www.mainstream-engr.com/)
Mainstream Engineering Co. is a solution-oriented, research, development and manufacturing small business located in Rockledge, FL. Mainstream is an industrial partner for Phase II for technical assistant and engineering design support for the ABODE process development and implementation (to the community wastewater facilities) and system sustainability analysis.  

City of Orlando's Green initiatives (http://www.cityoforlando.net/greenworks/energy-and-green-buildings/)
The City Energy Project of the City of Orlando will provide an excellent venue for implementing the ABODE process. In this partnership, carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the major greenhouse emissions will be applied for algae harvesting as a means of greenhouse gas capturing. The project team will work closely with the City of Orlando and the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) on a deployment of an R&D project using algae for carbon capture and mitigation from the coal-fired power plant. The City of Orlando is currently testing a system at the Stanton Energy Center in Orlando. The collaboration with OUC will provide great synergies for this Phase 2 project.    

 

 

 

 

Contact us

Woo Hyoung Lee, Ph.D., P.E.
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering
University of Central Florida
12800 Pegasus Dr., Suite 211
PO Box 162450, Orlando, FL 32816-2450
Phone: 407) 823-5304
Fax: 407) 823-3315
email: WooHyoung.Lee@ucf.edu
http://www.cece.ucf.edu/people/Lee/index.html