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Yanna Liang, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, is working on ways to improve and extract naturally occurring substances in certain algae strains that can be used to create biodiesel fuel.Of the huge number of algae types, Liang is focusing her research on two varieties that appear to have particular potential.
Dr. Yanna Liang, Ph.D.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale,.
One, Chlorella vulgaris, is a fresh-water alga that uses carbon dioxide to grow and create lipids, substances similar to those found in corn and used to produce vegetable oil. As an autotrophic organism, it is relatively slow growing but produces cells with high lipid content.
The second strain – Schizochytrium limacinum SR21 – is a seawater alga that is heterotrophic, meaning it must be “fed” a carbon source in place of carbon dioxide. This particular strain can use glycerin, which is a byproduct – often a waste product – of biodiesel production. Liang sees a particular advantage in this, as the strain might be integrated into the production stream at some point, creating greater efficiency and less waste.
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