Capstone Project Proposal
1. My Capstone Idea
My topic of interest for my capstone project is bio-fuel technology and specifically blue green algae and its use as a form of alternative energy. Algae bio-fuel has been a passion of mine since I first heard about a few years back. The concept is fascinating to me and the amount of research on the subject in recent years is quite abundant.
This project connects to the broader context of energy and sustainability policy because the potential for mass production on algal fuels in future markets is a hot topic right now. Debate and controversy surround the feasibility and economic benefits of investing in algal fuels as an alternative energy source.
The purpose of my final capstone project will be to demonstrate from an unbiased and objective point of view the benefits and costs associated with mass producing algal bio-fuels on a mass scale. I will do this by attempting to grow and harvest my own blue green algae using researched methods of agriculture currently used in the field and then converting those harvested algae to a usable form of biodiesel. I will test the accuracy of energy output from the bio-fuel and compare it to standard petroleum based fuel sources as a comparison.
2. Things I know and things I need to learn
This idea came to me while researching information on algae fuel production and alternative energy sources. The articles I found then lead me to videos on the subject where I came across a demonstration by a chemical engineer on the ease of producing biodiesel fuel from simple blue green algae. I then came up with the idea of repeating that experiment as basis for a capstone project.
There are other similar questions and ideas I can investigate as I work toward completing this capstone project. Some of these questions could be a cost comparison of making biodiesel fuel from corn and soy by-products as well as blue green algae so that I can further develop my findings on the subject.
3. Where I'll take this idea from here
In the ESP program there are several courses that will be directly beneficial to my successfully completing my capstone project idea. A few of these courses include EGEE 401: Energy in a Changing World and METEO 469: Understanding Global Warming. These two courses will allow me to fully understand the impact of fuel emissions on the environment as well as the need for advanced and alternative fuel methods for future generations.
A few sources that I can access to help me learn more on the subject include: leading industry corporations in the field of bio-fuel technology, such as Sapphire Energy and Solaxyme. Keeping up with current events in the energy markets and news media on the progress of algal fuel will provide me with the most accurate and current data on the topic.
The following are a few videos that briefly summarize algae bio-fuel production.