Committee Chair

Thomas, Tricia A.

Committee Member

Jones, Frank; Cunningham, Jim; Ennis, Bryan J.


Dept. of Engineering


College of Engineering and Computer Science


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


With nearly a quarter of the world’s population living without any access to electricity or modern energy, strategies for providing energy are very important. While the use of fossil fuels can bring the much needed energy to these areas they come with a host of problems. Fossil fuel use contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and ocean acidification. In many areas fossil fuels have to be transported in. The subsequent transmission and distribution can be difficult especially in rural areas. Dependence on fossil fuels also leaves the user vulnerable to disruption in deliveries and price fluctuations. While there are many options for locally provided renewable energy, biomass is particularly attractive. Biomass can provide a clean, reliable and secure energy source. Almost every country has access to some sort of biomass. In choosing a biomass the criterion for section should be: energy conversion yields, form of energy required and type of biomass available. Microalgae area good candidates because they uses very little land, can use non-arable land, are easily adaptable to different growth conditions, and are very efficient solar collectors. Algae also have a near-continuous harvest stream and have less complex conversion processes than lignocellulosic biomass. Finding a way to use algae to provide an underdeveloped area its first electricity is very important. Although algae can be used to create biodiesel, methane, ethanol, and hydrogen these technologies are complicated and are still in the demonstration phases. This study explores if algae could be used directly as an alternative fuel in a diesel engine to create electricity. In this study a specific strain of algae was grown, collected, and desiccated before using a bomb calorimeter to measure the heat of combustion. When this was done the algae was found to have an energy content of 4471.2 ± 95.1 cal/g.


I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my thesis advisor, Dr. Tricia Thomas, who has gone above and beyond as both a teacher and advisor. Without her guidance and encouragement this thesis would not have been possible. I would also like to thank my committee members Dr. Frank Jones, Dr. Ennis and Dr. Jim Cunningham. Dr. Jones was integral in helping solve experimental difficulties. His door was always open to answer questions and offer encouragement.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Energy crops; Biomass energy


Algae; Alternative fuels


Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering

Document Type

Masters theses




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