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Ryan Anderson

Colorado State University, Ph.D.
EREF Scholar 2020

Advancing a Novel Anaerobic Digestion Process for Producing Fatty Acids from Solid WastesProject Description:
Anderson’s research focuses on low-pH digestion of solid wastes to produce valuable long chain fatty acids. Operating anaerobic digestors at a low pH prevents the production of methane. Methane production is currently not economical for digestion because of the low price of natural gas. Without methane production, the fatty acids produced by acidogenesis are left in the reactor. These fatty acids can be used to make bioproducts and even plastics, making them more valuable than the methane. Harvesting of the fatty acids will be explored, along with optimal pH, metagenomics and other microbial consortia analysis to explore the black box that is currently low pH digestion.

Anderson is a Ph.D. student in Civil Engineering at Colorado State University. He earned his B.S. and M.S. . There, he researched outdoor algae culture yields to improve the economics of algae biofuels. He is currently working on several manuscripts based on this work describing (1) a bioprospecting approach to algae yield improvements in outdoor cultures and (2) an adaptive laboratory evolution approach to algae yield improvements in outdoor cultures. His academic goals are to earn a Ph.D. and contribute meaningfully to the literature in the field of solid waste management.  After his Ph.D., Anderson wants to continue research with a focus on bioconversion of wastes to valuable products or energy. He believes the key to sustainability for our world lies in how we manage our waste products. Wastes have potential to be transformed into usable products or energy, and wastes are a large resource that is essentially free feedstocks for energy or valuable product production.