Available at: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/theses/807
Date of Award
MS in Electrical Engineering
Living a sustainable lifestyle while facing increasing population and decreasing natural resources has become one of humanity’s largest challenges. Locating fossil fuels is becoming more difficult while the demand for them to power our societies is ever increasing. Instead of finding more efficient methods of extracting fossil fuels, developing technologies that create renewable substitutes for fossil fuels is now the strategy. Algae biofuel matches fossil fuel performance while also meeting the criteria for renewable energy. The focus now shifts to finding methods for commercially producing algae biofuel. Therefore, the objective of this thesis is to develop a system that provides the flexibility in finding the optimum operating conditions for lysing algae. Lysing is the process of disrupting the cell membrane in order to isolate the cellular components necessary to produce biofuel. The proposed system consists of cascaded power converters that provide a pulse output voltage in order to create a pulsed electric field (PEF) to lyse algae. The proposed system is unique from any known PEF systems because it provides the ability to independently adjust peak voltage, pulse width and frequency of the output voltage. This in turn provides great flexibility in determining optimum pulse voltage at various operating conditions for lysing algae. The system was tested on its ability to control the required variables while maintaining independence from the other variables. The new network was also designed and tested on how well it regulated the specific output waveform under the effects of different load currents as well as variations in the input voltage.