Daria Fontani Herreros ’24

Major

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project Title

Cultivation of Sulfolobus acidocaldarius to Enhance Olivine Dissolution Rates in Bio-Cement

Presentation Link

View Daria's Presentation

Certificate(s): Applications of Computing, Architecture and Engineering

The production of cement contributes to 7% of anthropogenic carbon emissions and thus requires immediate attention in the face of our global climate crisis. I worked with the Sustainable Cements Group to begin the process of creating a bio-cement. This bio-cement uses bacteria to enhance a reaction that turns olivine, a magnesium-rich silicate mineral abundant on the Earth’s crust, into a magnesium carbonate cement substitute. I studied the growth of a species of thermoacidophilic archaea, Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, to learn about its sulfur-oxidizing capabilities and the extent to which it could be used in this novel approach to cement production. My work consisted of inoculating and monitoring the bacteria’s growth in different media by taking optical density readings at 600nm. These meaurements inform on the extent to which the bacteria are able to oxidize elemental sulfur without added carbon sources. My research helped the group confirm that Sulfolobus acidocaldarius is not an appropriate bacteria for this research, and the next steps for the group involve testing a different species, Acidianus brierleyi. This experience taught me much about the breadth of civil engineering and the innovative ways different fields of study can come together to produce solutions to the world’s most pressing issues.



Internship Year

2022

Project Category

Innovation and a New Energy Future

Organization(s)

Sustainable Cements Group, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Princeton University - Princeton, New Jersey

Mentor(s)

Claire White, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment