Date of Award

12-2016

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biological Engineering

Advisor

Paul Millard

Second Committee Member

Michael Mason

Third Committee Member

Peter van Walsum

Abstract

We explored the capabilities of additive manufacturing using a photo-cured jetted material 3D printer to manufacture a milli-microfluidic device with direct application in microalgae Dunaliella sp growth and intracellular compounds biosynthesis tests. A continuous microbioreactor for microalgae culture was CAD designed and successfully built in 1 hour and 49 minutes using black photopolymer cured by UV and a support material. The microreactor was made up of 2 parts including the bioreactor itself and a microchannel network for culture media fluids and microalgae. Both parts were assembled to form a single unit. Additional optical and auxiliar components were added. An external photodetection system platform helped to read light information coming from the bioreactor, related to microalgae growth and production of Carotenoids.

Several tests were carried out to check manufacturing quality, behavior of microalgae inside microreactor, quality of light based data coming from meauring system and comparison of microalgae culture operation using (flasks) and microbioreactor.

Growth of microalgae inside the microreactor was unsuccessful and several hypothesis may explain the lack of cell replication, from low CO₂ content to 3D photopolymer incompatibility with cell environment. Further improvements related to gas exchange, specially CO₂, microalgae retention system, high irradiance for light stressing tests and material biocompatibility need to be addressed in future works. From a mechanical point of view it was demonstrated the 3D fabricated microreactor it is possible and that it has promising advantages compared to other microfabrication processes that involve complexity in the design, longer manufacturing time, more expensive and sophisticated manufacturing techniques as well as specialized operators and designers.