Total fatty acid production in golden alga Prymnesium parvum a potential bio-diesel feedstock
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Developing renewable and sustainable feedstocks for biodiesel production is one strategy for reducing our dependence on petroleum-based fuel. Microalgae are attractive feedstocks for biodiesel due to their high lipid content and fast growth rate. In addition algae, can be cultured on marginal lands using saline water and thus avoiding competition with arable land. This study investigates the total fatty acid content in Prymnesium parvum, which has the potential as a feedstock for biodiesel production. Prymnesium parvum was cultured in artificial sea water with the salinity adjusted to 14 - 15 (psu) and a pH ranging from 7.8 - 8.5. The culture temperature was 25.7°C under florescent light with a 16:8 (L/D) cycle. Total fatty acids produced had a mean of 11.679 % ± 0.68671 (DW). These percentages were below the 22-38% previously reported by E. W. Becker 1994. Total algal biomass produced had a mean yield of 0.34mg ± 0.07204 (DW) / L. In comparison to other algal species used as feedstocks, P. parvum produced significantly less fatty acids and biomass. Prymnesium parvum also exhibited signs of self toxicity with frequent crash cycles. The self toxicity would have contributed to its inability to produce both lipids and dry biomass. Further studies for increasing fatty acid production in P. parvum may require using a continuous bioreactor system, controlling environmental conditions to relieve self-toxicity and adjusting nutrient concentrations. Exposure to different light/dark regiments along with increasing CO2 concentrations should be explored to possibly increase yields.