2022 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Assessing the Role of Micronutrients on N. oculata Growth in Struvite Based Media

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Kevin Feris


Large-scale algal cultivation offers a sustainable alternative route to producing greener, safer, biofuels and other bio-products. However, nutrients needed to supply algal cultivation can potentially be costly and compete with nutrients necessary for agriculture. Algae biomass production combined with nutrient recovery from wastewater treatment offers a solution to lower operational costs and competition with agricultural production. Struvite [NH4MgPO4] is a crystalline phosphate mineral, harvested from nutrient recapture processes associated with wastewater treatment. Struvite produced from municipal water resource recovery facilities (municipal struvite), contains macronutrients necessary for quality algal biomass production (e.g. N, P, etc.). Alone, municipal struvite may not contain the micronutrients necessary for algal production. Preliminary research within our lab indicates that algae strain N.oculata, known to produce high value lipids, experiences a significant decrease in biomass production without supplementation. This research aims to determine the specific nutrients that limit N. oculate production in struvite-based media. Previous research suggests chelated iron, EDTA [1,2], calcium[3] and Trace Elements can be necessary for algal production. An experiment was designed utilizing eight different media combinations of municipal struvite amended with micronutrient limiting factors; to determine which individual or combinations of micronutrients maximize production of N.oculata. Our treatments included struvite based media amended with and without the potential limiting micronutrient factors FeNa EDTA, CaCl2, and Trace Elements. Discovering these micronutrients can help maximize algal biomass production, while minimizing costly inputs to algal cultivation systems.

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