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Growing Duckweed for Bioethanol Production

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1009440.(doi:10.13031/2013.29907)
Authors:   Weihua Cui, Jiele Xu, Jay J Cheng, Anne M Stomp
Keywords:   Bioethanol, Duckweed, Starch, Swine wastewater, Temperature, Photoperiod, Nutrient

Duckweed is a free-floating aquatic plant that not only has shown great promise in recovering nutrients from wastewater, but also is considered as a potential energy crop that can be used for bioethanol production due to its excellent growth and starch accumulation capability. The starch content of duckweed can be increased by manipulating growth conditions including light intensity, photoperiod, temperature, pH, and nutrient level in the culture medium. Spirodela polyrrhiza, a local duckweed strain in North Carolina showing a great potential for starch production, was grown on nutrient-rich swine lagoon effluent for starch accumulation investigation. The effects of temperature, nutrient level, and photoperiod on the starch content of duckweed plant were investigated. The results showed that, with the decrease of temperature from 25 to 5 oC, the starch content in duckweed increased remarkably. With the removal of nutrients, the starch content could be increased by 59.3% within four days at 5 oC. The photoperiod test indicated that longer photoperiod favored the starch accumulation.

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