Production of Biodiesel and Ethanol from Algae; How Marketing of Prescription Drugs Impacts Overall Patient Health

Dineen, Schuyler, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Anderson, Eric, EN-Chem Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The algae biofuel facility will be built near Houston, Texas and draw wastewater from a nearby wastewater treatment plant. Nitrogen will be added to the wastewater to further improve its fertility, and the water is put into roughly 8 square miles of open-air raceways to grow algae. After 1 week, the algae will be ready for harvesting and must be dried for processing. The algae cells will be disrupted using sulfuric acid at supercritical conditions, therefore allowing the lipids to escape the cells. The lipids will be removed from the mixture in a decanter by adding hexane and taking advantage of liquid-liquid extraction from the differing polarities of the hexane and lipid layer as compared to the water, sulfuric acid, and cell matter layer. At this point the process splits, with the lipids and hexane moving on to the biodiesel production part and the cell mass mixture going on to be turned into ethanol.
For the lipids and hexane layer, a vacuum evaporator will separate the hexane from the lipids by utilizing the hexane’s high volatility. This hexane will be recycled back to the decanter to minimize expenses. The lipids are then combined with ethanol made in the facility from the cell matter, heated to supercritical conditions, and reacted to form biodiesel. The biodiesel is then purified using a distillation to 99.6% purity, just over the minimum diesel standard of 99.5%.
In order to process the cell matter into ethanol, the acid mixture it is in must first be neutralized. Calcium hydroxide is added to the mixture to react with sulfuric acid to form water and calcium sulfate, an insoluble compound. The solid calcium sulfate will be removed with a rotary drum filter, allowing the cell matter, sugars, and yeast to go to fermentation.
Ethanol is produced in the fermentation tank, one of the valuable products. The mixture will go to a centrifuge decanter to remove solids such as yeast and cell waste. The remaining ethanol water mixture will be distilled to azeotropic conditions. The product azeotrope will be put through a packed column with aluminosillicate molecular sieves to remove the water, therefor yielding a 99.4% ethanol product. The required amount of ethanol for biodiesel transesterification will be sent to that part of the facility, and the remaining ethanol will be sold.
The subject of the STS research paper is the proliferation of direct to consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription medications since 1997. In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) loosened many of the regulations previously held to prescription drugs. In response, drug manufacturers dramatically increased their expenditures on marketing and exposure to patients. The exact effect of this increased marketing on the health of the patient is determined in this thesis. In order to answer this research question, an analysis of past literature, including case studies, systematic reviews, and other research articles, is conducted. The analysis is supplemented using actor-network theory (ANT). It is expected that by comparing marketing expenditures of certain prescription drugs and prevalence of conditions or diseases which can be treated using these prescription drugs will show a negative correlation, proving that this marketing is beneficial to the patient. If the effectiveness of prescription drug marketing is proven, then other nations can be pushed to adopt the same system as the United States and have an opportunity to advance the health of their citizens.
Analysis of media and DTCA of prescription drugs with patient health is crucial for a complete understanding of the impact that prescription drug marketing has. Such marketing of prescription medication is a multibillion-dollar industry with profound effects on company revenue and the patients. Exact determination of these effects on society will allow for adequate decision making on whether or not to continue such advertisements.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Prescription Drugs

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Eric Anderson
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook
Technical Team Members: Schuyler Dineen, Jack Pagan, Michael Schapowal, Amna Tahir, David Vann

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