Hydrodynamic cavitation as a method for cell disruption

Christopher Caviglia, University of Texas at El Paso


Development of new renewable technologies is an important driver in the scientific community. As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase and the dependence on a finite amount of fossil fuel remains, the need for sustainable forms of energy is ever growing. Research in the field of renewable biofuels has pointed researchers toward the naturally occurring, robust, lipid- producing microorganism; microalgae. Its ability to sequester carbon and yield high lipid production has made it very attractive to renewable research. It has the potential to produce up to 10 times the oil, per acre, than competing biofuel feedstocks. However, an energy efficient method of harvesting algal biomass has yet to be utilized. The methods currently used employ large energy inputs, reducing overall efficiency of the harvest. The use of cavitation as destructive phenomenon has been largely studied in the past as something to avoid. Problems encountered on boat propellers, pump impellers, and turbines are designed to stay within certain operating parameters as to avoid cavitation, which would lead to failure of the equipment. It has more recently gained attention as a useable force, however a more thorough investigation of cavitational parameters is required in order to aid engineers and designers to understand the extent of its usefulness. The work implements a hydrodynamic cavitation system testing different operating parameters for evaluation of efficiency. Orifice plates were tested at varying cavitation numbers, power inputs, and geometric parameters in a controlled system. The Weissler reaction was employed to verify the intensity of the cavitating flow and the influence of tested parameters. Wet algal biomass samples were then run through the reactor to verify the effect of cavitation on cell wall disruption.

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Recommended Citation

Caviglia, Christopher, "Hydrodynamic cavitation as a method for cell disruption" (2015). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10000790.