Anaerobic Degradation of Marine Algae, Seagrass and Tropical Climbing Vines to Produce a Renewable Energy Source and the Analysis of Their Anaerobic Microbial Communities
PUERTO RICO UNIV MAYAGUEZ
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Energy demand by contemporary societies and the excessive consumption of fossil fuels have impulsed research and the employment of renewable energy systems. It has been proposed, in terms of renewable systems, the use of biofuels generated by the degradation of organic matter, like bioethanol, biodiesel and methane, being this last one the more efficient one based on its calorific value. For this reason we propose the implementation of anaerobic reactors which degrade biomass that has relatively high growth rates, require low quantity of nutrients and eliminate any competition by its use, thus creating a cost-effective system. Tropical climbing vines provide biomasses with the previous characteristics however, they contain high concentrations of cellulose and lignin that are polymers difficult to degrade. In contrast, biomass like marine algae contains low concentrations of both lignin and cellulose, which should make them an easier material for degradation. Finally, in comparison to marine algae another source of marine biomass, which can serve as biomass for the creation of these systems, is seagrasses. Nonetheless, seagrasses are more related to terrestrial plants than marine algae for which they could present the same difficulties towards degradation as climbing vines. This study aims to compare the efficiency of three different vegetation biomasses marine algae, seagrass and tropical climbing vines as primary substrate for anaerobic reactors. Moreover, to achieve what could be a highly cost effective system, the isolation and identification of anaerobic alginate degraders was studied. Alginate is a complex polysaccharide present in marine algae s cell wall, representing up to 40 of its dry weight. The study was completed creating anaerobic microcosms, which contained 0.016 gmL 0.5 g total biomass of each biomass. Methane and intermediaries produced were determined for each microcosm.