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the algae experiment can a plant fuel your car? a journey from nothing to everything.

Unit Title: Project Realisation and Reflection (Architecture) Unit Code: MA 3.1 A Student ID: 54516 Name: Carolos Charles Mouchtaris

Chapter Layout

- Introduction to Critical Paper - Algae

pg.5 pg.7


- Research - Images - Components - Model - Design - Assessing the success of the Fuel Cartridge project & its practicality

- The algae experiment - Original sketches, renders, thoughts of architectural implications - Shape & Materiality - The ribs - The tubes - How it came together - The plinth - Lighting - Color - Sealing the Bio-reactor - Hose Fitting - Initial test runs - Growing the algae


- Organisation & Efficiency

- What is Algae? - How is it processed?

- Reflecting on Thesis 2: Fuel Cartridge

-Self Assessment - Conclusion


- Bibliography


- Correspondence


- Appendix

pg. 34

- Videos - Due to the large size of the videos, they are only pg.13

available online. Please go on YouTube and in the search bar type: It will bring up all the related videos required.




The aim of this project is to create an model which harbors an ecosystem fit to help us escape a fossil fuel economy. We are in an era that is experiencing a shift from humanity trying to dominate nature, to then trying to preserve parts of nature and now trying to reach a reconciliation with nature. This is the algae experiment; an idea that is trying to move away from a linear wasteful and polluting way of using resources to a closed loop system where all resources are kept in a closed loop cycle.

This critical paper will allow the reader to access the state of mind of the author and to experience the thought process behind its inception, process, analysis, construction & finally its completion.

Follow the possibilities of harvesting algae for fuel & see the difficulties met along this journey on-line at

The aim of this document is twofold; First to introduce a previous project (Fuel Cartridge) which lay the groundwork for the algae experiment, explain all the relative research in order for the reader to have an understanding of what the goal of the experiment is and to assess the success of the Fuel Cartridge and reflect on what could have been done differently to improve it. Second, this paper will show the construction process of the algae experiment through the use of imagery & videos. It will outline the problems encountered during this journey and the ways in which they were dealt with. Furthermore, it will reflect into what made this project what it became to be such as using online media as well as organisational strategies.


What is algae?

Before beginning to explain anything, I believe it is important to explain what algae is exactly, how it can be used and what processes and technologies are available in order to create the end product; bio-fuel.

“Botryococcus braunii (Bb) is a green, pyramid shaped planktonic microalga, the species is notable for its ability to produce high amounts of hydrocarbons, especially oils that are typically around 30-40 percent of their dry weight.”1

Figure 1

“This strain has been shown to grow best at a temperature of 23°C, a light intensity of 60 W/M², with a light period of 12 hours per day.” 2 “The practice of farming cultivating is known as algaculture. It has great potential for algaculture because of up to 86% of its dry weight can be long chain hydrocarbons which can be processed into bio-fuel.” 3

Botryococcus braunii, Small lake in New Hampshire, USA

Algae in the typical sense of the word refers to autotrophic organisms commonly known as seaweed. They can range from large organisms which can grow up to 65m in length to unicellular organisms called microalgae. This is the type of algae that we will be focusing on. There are thousands of species of microalgae each of which contain different ‘fat contents’. The favourite to be used for bio-fuel is the Botryococcus Braunii strain.

Microalgae typically grow much faster than normal plants and can sometimes double their cell mass twice in 24 hours. If we take an example a low yield strain which produces 10g of biomass per m2 per day and only a 15% oil content, that gives us 633 gallons per acre whereas soybeans (one of the most popular choices for fuel) only produce 48 gallons per acre.4

Figure 2

These cultures can reach concentrations of up to 0.2 – 10 g of dry matter (dw) per liter – about 1000 times more concentrated than the densest natural algal blooms.5

Botryococcus braunii, National Institute of Environmental Science, Japan Figure 3

Botryococcus braunii, National Institute of Environmental Science, Japan Page:7

How does algae grow?

Algae is just like any other plant, it grows with photosynthesis. However due to the nature of its use, we want to speed up this process so we use what are called bio-reactors. They are effectively storage containers which ensure the algae is grown within a safe environment so that they cannot get contaminated and get the optimum amount of food and light they need to grow.

Once the algae has reached a maturity stage which is ready to be harvested, in other words it has become dense enough that it is almost like paste, it is then extracted and de-watered. This happens either by drying the paste by using heat which is more time and energy intensive, or with the use of a centrifuge. This essentially makes the algae water & paste spin round so fast that the water is separated from the paste which makes its way back into the bio-reactor and leaves the paste inside the filtered layer in the centrifuge. Much like a washing machine spin-dries clothes. Then the oil is separated from the paste using either a chemical process, a screw press which applies a great amount of pressure on the paste literally squeezing the oil out of the sludge or with the use of a new technology called ultrasonication. A company called OriginOil is on the forefront of this new technology.

How can this algal biomass be used once its processed and what goes to waste?

“ Biodiesel is made from algae oil by a chemical conversion process called transesterification. Despite the use of heat, mechanical agitation and catalytic chemicals, this conversion takes approx. 4 to 6 hours. Ultrasonication improves the mixing and increases the chemical reactivity of the reactants. This reduces the time needed for the chemical conversion by up to 90% leading to a whole new perspective on biodiesel making. A residence time of approx. 1 hour is sufficient for the conversion to complete.” 6





Feeding Vessel

Photo-Bioreactor Centrifuge

Algae oil

Dryer Algae Cake Oil Press Page:8

The answer is there is practically no waste & algae does not have a single end product. “Three major components can be extracted from algal biomass: lipids (including triglycerides and fatty acids), carbohydrates, and proteins from the cake. While lipids and carbohydrates are fuel precursors (e.g., gasoline, biodiesel and jet fuel), proteins can be used for co-products (e.g., animal/fish feeds).” 7

Even the water that is extracted is pumped back into the system because it is rich in nutrients which will help accelerate the growth of the next batch of algae.

The Fuel Cartridge was set out in the year 2050, The aim was to create a typology which would deal with two up and coming problems; global warming & depleting fossil fuel reserves. Algae cultivation in conjunction with architecture seemed to provide a viable armature in which the two could battle these problems in unity.

Reflecting on Thesis 2: Fuel Cartridge

Carbon emissions are the primary cause of global warming causing the mean sea level to rise exponentially over the past few years and putting cities like Venice, Amsterdam & the Kent County in the UK in peril. In order to explore this phenomenon I constructed a model which would simulate the shift in population depending on what parts of the South East coast would be in danger of flooding. This allowed me to narrow down site location, intervention size etc. With water levels rising we are left with less land which appreciates in value whilst at the same time the human population numbers are constantly increasing. In turn there is a greater demand for personal transportation which increases the number of cars imported to the UK. With less land and more people to house, there are also more mouths to feed. In the future, land will be too valuable to be used as agricultural land. Major stationary CO2 sources in the United State (NATCARB, 2008a).


Reflecting on Thesis 2: Fuel Cartridge

Therefore I proposed a hydroponic farming system which would produce 5 times the yield of field grown crop and only use 1/10th of the space required. By growing them in the greenhouse-like cages we are able to have fresh fruit and vegetables all year round.


On the Isle of Sheppey, UK lies one of the largest car storage facilities of imported cars prior to them being distributed around the UK. The Isle of Sheppey will lose 42% of its land and 101,000 people will affected in the Swale region. In addition Sheppey will lose site specific industries such as the port & a 880,000 square meters large car park.

The concept is simple, in order to help deal with the whereabouts of storing these cars after the present car park will be flooded, car companies which want to continue exporting cars to the UK will fund the proposal which will house all the cars in only 4% of the original land needed.

With the proposal being set out in a future scenario, the hypothesis is that the majority of transportation vehicles will be either powered by bio-fuels or electricity. Within the proposal I found an opportunity to cultivate these necessary bio-fuels by using methods which have become more popular over the last decade; algae farming.

Reflecting on Thesis 2: Fuel Cartridge

With algae producing such high output yields, this proposal could provide the necessary fuel for half of Kent every year. The project was a success in the end as it got a distinction grade. I was pleased with the graphics produced although the physical model was not able to be on show due to Health & Safety regulations regarding water & electricity. I feel that if I had more time I would have made a more safetyconscious physical model. Ultimately though as far as the design was concerned perhaps the square connected window strategy was not the optimum solution as algae could collect and settle in each window despite the fact that they each had an internal funnel system.


Reflecting on Thesis 2: Fuel Cartridge

I would like to investigate the algae cultivation component of the Fuel Cartridge and try to take a different design approach which would have far greater efficiencies in both terms of cost & operating ease. Throughout the course of the MA, I intend to make a technical representation of the key component of the Fuel Cartridge which can be also be an installation and/or an exhibition piece in itself. The technical representation I will be making will be a model which on one level could be interpreted as a scaled model of a architectural design whilst on another level is a living 1:1 working ecosystem; a functioning model in an exhibition which can be intravenously fed CO2 and grow the algae strain: Botrycoccus Braunii for fuel.


Prototyping: Shape, Size & Materiality

When drawing the first sketches for the model I had to decide on two things at once; the shape and the size. It would have to be something consistent since it would be a repetitive model and to minimize costs I would have to order the same part(s) all at once. I decided to choose a closed bio-reactor system based on using tubes to transport the algae from the tank to the light source and back around. These tubes would be supported from a series of rib like structures. I tried to contain the size of each rib just under a standard A4 size paper in order to be able to tile it as condensed as possible on the laser cutting machine to keep both cost and wasted wood low.

Whilst pondering about the shape of the ribs that would carry the tubes I looked back into the Fuel Cartridge simulation model to see what drove me to shape the curvature of the model the way I did. I had noticed I had used a UK mean solar path in order to simulate the sun rising and setting. I decided that this was the best option for the ribs as well as it produces favorable results when testing and operating the model. However, I was not definite whether the model should be representative of a building or if it should be a more practical approach of a model that simply grows algae and has an architectural essence to it. I used the solar path shape in a sectional format where it would be repeated and create a tunnel like object which could grow the algae on its surface.


The ribs

I considered using two materials for the support system. I tried clear acrylic so as not detract from the function, which would be the algae tubes containing the algae. However. having to deal with all the transparencies of the materials made the model seem very confusing.

I then experimented with both 5mm ply and 3mm ply. The 5mm ply however seemed excessive and too dominant once cut. I therefore used 3mm ply because a) I had an abundance of and b) it was the cheapest ply for sale in the University workshop whilst providing the stability I was looking for. At least this way the mind could separate what was being grown and what was holding it together.

I needed each rib to consist of two pieces of wood in order to provide a stable ‘leg’ for each segment whilst I would be putting the model together but also to be able to withstand any rocking from pressure the model would experience during the cultivation hours. I ordered 50 M4 grub screws with a cup point and 150 M4 hexagon nuts and got started on the ribs. (M4 denotes the diameter of the screw; 4mm) I spaced the ribs apart 20mm which allowed them to be able to free stand. Together all 5 sets made a very sturdy model base. Page:14

The tubes

I wanted to use a closed loop system where the algae would travel constantly and safely without getting contaminated, so using clear acrylic tubes was the best option.

That is when I decided to try to enter the 8mm inner area of the tube; something considered very unconventional and ‘inconvenient’ but to me this was the only option as far as flexibility was concerned with the materials available to me. I found a 8mm outer diameter silicone tube and it fit perfectly inside.

I initially wanted to use 15mm outer diameter tubes with an inner diameter of 12mm in order to carry the water required to grow the algae, as well as to match the pump power (4000 Liters per hour) that I had obtained for the previous Fuel Cartridge model. However I quickly realized that at every return point of each tube there was no silicone or plastic based hose that was flexible enough to bend around to each connection point.

This wasn’t all disappointing as it meant that I could downsize to 12mm outer diameter tubes with an inner diameter of 8mm and save on cost at the same time. Unfortunately even though I moved down to that size, finding a hose which would fit on the outside of the 12mm seemed impossible.


How it came together

The trouble now was to sort out the frequency and amount of tubes per rib. I needed enough to cover as much of the surface as possible in order for the algae to capture as much light as possible. I therefore ordered 20 x 1m length 12mm outer diameter tubes. This allowed me enough spacing to double up in the future on the inside if I could raise more money to have a second set under the first set of ribs.

Although at first one pair of tubes seemed easy to connect to each other with the 8mm silicone hose, repeating the process 40 times with such a small radius and a tendency to buckle in and fold on itself seemed impractical. I therefore had to come up with a different system of transporting the algae from one tube to the next. This meant either re-designing the ribs to a much larger scale which would set each tube further apart or changing the tube to an even smaller size which would allow me to purchase an even thinner hose with more flexibility to achieve that goal.


I decided not to go with either, instead I changed the pattern of transport; rather than consecutively going from tube to tube, I would skip 3 tubes on one end and 2 on the other, 3 on one, 2 on the other and so on and so forth. This allowed me to stick with the same design & tubes which were already put together and get a much larger radius which would ensure that the hoses would not pop out of place because of the pressure or their internal positioning in the acrylic tubes.

The plinth

With the ‘above ground’ part of the model completed, it was now time for the plinth to be constructed which would house all the mechanisms that would operate the model ‘below ground’. The plinth required to place the model on a height which would be comfortable to be viewed by an audience of both children & the elderly but at the same time not be overstated and detract from the model itself.

On these holes I would label what each component would do. Bio-reactor, CO2 pump, air intake, light source. Once deciding on the location of these objects, I decided that rather than having separate holes with separate names, it would be better to have one panel which would be seen as one object containing all the information one needs to know which would be far less distracting.

I decided to make it 1m tall and allow 15cm for each side of the 1m tubes to have space for the turnaround of the hoses. The final dimensions of the plinth were 1m tall, 1,3m long by 0.3m wide.

As this was going to be both an exhibition piece and a University project I felt that there was a strong educational aspect to it. I wanted to somehow be able to tell the story of the algae with this model. I decided to make viewing holes on the rear side which would show the process much like the doughnut company Krispy Kreme has certain stores where the customers can see the production line of how the doughnuts are made from the dough to the glazing.

This turned out to be a really good choice after all and the laser cutting machine did an excellent job. Etching turned out to be much harder than I thought as every letter had to be converted to an object which meant that there was a much higher chance for an error to occur. Each letter had to be checked and cleared of any unwanted lines as well as check for disconnections in the comprising lines.


The plinth


Due to the nature of the reactor being compact and transportable, I needed to be able to remove the water tank when it was being taken elsewhere, I therefore used heavy duty draw rods to make a shelf which the water tank would sit on. I then proceeded to make a wooden mould of the tank in order for it to sit and wedge inside in order to secure it from tipping over in case of an accidental budge.

The final component to the inside of the plinth was the lighting. Fluorescent tubes are very effective when growing algae, especially because they disperse light so effectively and consume less electricity than conventional light bulbs. After discussing the matter with a representative of the Algae Depot where I procured my algae sample from the representative recommended 1cm per 2.5 watts which would mean 16cm for a 40w fluorescent tube.


After mounting the light fixture at the desired height I tried various thicknesses of opaque acrylic tops which would allow the light to penetrate onto the algae growth surface and chose a model which would allow for 30% of the light to shine through.


After that the plinth was ready for painting, a clean white look turned out to be the right choice and a color scheme of white, natural ply & clear proved successful. In hindsight I should have used far less paint quantity on the water tank door as the 3mm ply could not handle the paint and warped. It is purely an aesthetic problem, one that can be addressed after the exhibition is over.


Sealing the bio-reactor

With the plinth drying it was now time to seal the tubes and the hoses shut to make a closed loop bio-reactor. I used the super-instant glue rather than silicone because of its ‘instant factor’ and the fact that the hose & tube were such a tight fit that silicone would only create clumps inside the tube and probably cause more problems than it was worth.

When trying to fit each hose in the tubes it was extremely hard to get each one in at first. To solve the problem I countersunk all the tubes in order to get a ‘start’ in each hose so that it could slide in with ease. This was an excellent solution as later I poured glue on the countersunk tube with the hose in place which created a lake which would seal shut. Result: not a single connection out of the 40 connections leaked.

Because the tube was a very small space with a limited air supply, the instant glue would not dry instantly, this created a small puddle inside each connection. I therefore had to try various positions every 5~7 minutes to ensure that each connection would seal on all 360o.


Hose fitting

The final component to completing the model were the hose fittings. The only place near Canterbury that had the fittings required was Hydraquip Hydrohoses in Adisham. Only a 10 minute train ride. 10 minutes and approximately ÂŁ70 later the fittings were purchased and ready for installation.

Whilst I would be transporting the model, I would like to have the ability to separate the bio-reactor from the plynth. I used some heavy duty clip-on clip-off fittings which allowed me to completely disconnect the bio-reactor without compromising any connection points.

The adjustable handle also meant that I could regulate the speed at which the algae would travel round the model and effectively either accelerate or decelerate the growth when needed.

A minor adjustment had to be made to the pumping mechanism. Due to the fact that the 4000 Liters per hour was significantly more powerful than the 15 Liter water tank I was intending to use I had to make an outlet where the pumps power would effectively be cut in half in order to take the stress off all the plumbing connections so they would not suddenly blow apart from the pressure.


Test runs

After letting the glue settle for 40 hours, the first test run with still water was extremely successful. The air bubbles traveled at a steady pace throughout the model and all the connections held up perfectly. This run lasted for 4 hours. I then proceeded to add algae incrementally over the next week.


During the building period, I had started to grow algae using the simple method of a water bottle, algae food & the sun. This proved successful in the UK but even more successful in Greece where the sun lasted for longer during the day. I started with a culture sent to me by the Algae Depot of 50ml and after a few days I reached 3 x 100ml travel bottles.

I then proceeded to continue to grow that culture until I eventually reached the required 5.5 Liters after approximately 2 weeks. The algae was growing exponentially quicker due to the limited bottle room I would provide along with excellent sun exposure and feeding regime.

Growing algae for the bio-reactor


Test runs

I let the algae run in the bio-reactor for 10 days and achieved excellent results. Perhaps it was the location of the model posistioned against a window which received very good sunlight both artificial and genuine but it had grown at a steady pace becoming greener every day.


Test runs


Assessing the course and reflecting back on the time spent

Considering the time frame of the MA course, I believe this was an extremely good use of the time provided. Organisation and efficiency play a crucial role in being able to complete any task one chooses and for me to achieve this, making daily lists is by far the best way to organise ones self during a busy schedule. This is a typical week during the algae experiment.

At the end of each day I would dedicate 15 minutes to make a list with everything that needs to be completed with consideration of the optimal routes through the day in order to minimize the time spent on the road/bus/walking. It might sound odd to some but I find it crucial in order to keep track with every single thing that needs to be done in exactly a specific order in order to achieve the best results.


Assessing the course and reflecting back on the time spent

After that I would set aside another 15 minutes to clean up everything off my desk/workspace and place the tools back where they would belong. I found that doing this allowed me to wake up to a clean slate every day and not face last night’s problems. Psychologically I believe this plays a important role as far as productivity goes. That way I know I have to look at my list to start off my day immediately without having to remember where I left off the night before or look for tools all over the place because I don’t remember where I placed them. Eventually it paid off as everything was completed as planned. On a personal level this isn’t the end of this project just because I am completing the MA course. Honestly speaking when I started out studying Architecture and to some extent now I am not the most environmentally conscious person on the planet. I do not always recycle, use energy saving light bulbs or dispose of batteries in the appropriate manner. However, when it comes to using natural resources more efficiently I have experienced a large turn-around.

Coming from Greece the climate has always been kind to the country. Since always, when we wanted to take a shower at home we would turn on the solar panels to heat the water for a bath and having grown up near the sea hearing the wind soaring through single glazed windows and hearing the sea waves smashing against the rocks during winter time, I have always been conscious of these continuous sources of energy. Saying this, I cannot for the life of me understand why Greece has not heavily invested in taking advantage of these resources to produce energy over the past 20 years, I digress. This is why algae made so much sense to me; the fact that it isn’t useful for only one thing. In order to grow algae in its simplest form, very few resources are required: water, (brackish, fresh or saline)8 nutrients, Carbon Dioxide & solar power. Just like any other plant. If however we want to grow it on a commercial scale, then we need machinery which requires electricity. This is where I found algae cultivation to be such a ‘game changer’. If the algae bio-reactors are strategically placed adjacent to conventional coal fueled power plants, they can start drastically changing the amount of CO2 emissions and wastewater exposed to the environment. Simply put, since algae needs CO2 to grow we can effectively place a ‘plug’ on the exhaust pipe of the coal fueled power plant4 where the emissions are released and start storing it in chambers to feed it to the bio-reactors at a controlled rate. In addition the water that power plants need to use to cool down their machinery which is then disposed into the ocean causing considerable pollution can be processed and used as a water source to grow the algae. After this all we need is solar power & a propulsion system to stimulate algal growth. This isn’t ‘let’s recycle paper or start using public transport because it’s good for the environment’ equivalent. This is fundamentally changing what comes out of nearly every exhaust pipe in the world. Algae has been around for a very long time, it has been dated back 1.7 billion years9 and although this technology has been suppressed for the last 20 years, with the social networks now becoming exponentially large it is easier to have access too difficult to hide its advantages and popularity over oil and now people have started experimenting with it; like me.

I am incredibly pleased with the way this degree has progressed as I didn’t expect to get this far involved with this particular technology. I admire systems which are inherently close to nature but use it in a fashion which do not exploit our natural resources. As simple as it may sound, growing a living organism which can be retrofitted to any location, object or building could in fact have a fundamental impact on a global scale. I am of a belief that the quality of work is not reflected on the amount of time dedicated on producing it rather the efficiency and productivity involved in making it happen. This is reflected on my work where I try to be scrupulous and efficient in the minimum amount of time required to produce the desired outcome. I have become really excited in this field of architecture, I have spoken to numerous organisations about getting this project involved, such as the London expo: Eco-Build, The Algae Competition organisation, the Algae Depot in the USA as well as magazines, blogs & even Architectural firms that have an interest in this field such as Michael Pawlyn of Exploration Architecture who is investigating Bio-mimicry in architecture in order to get feedback and improve it further in the future.



As the Fuel Cartridge was a speculative project, following the same scenario and assuming the proposal were to exist, the algae experiment which is not only a technical exercise but an architectural representation of some sort could be thought of as a pavilion. This would have to be located somewhere which would allow it to have a great impact on the significance of the space it is surrounded by but also be accessible to the public in order to attract maximum attention in order to educate people about these technologies available. The algae experiment could be integrated within a Masterplan proposal for the Battersea Power Station by Ian Simpson Architects which are proposing to introduce 3000 dwellings along with retail facilities, green spaces etc. This location could provide a perfect juxtaposition between the old Battersea Power Station and the new algae bio-reactor which would essentially be creating the ‘energy of the future’ and act as a sculptural centrepiece where people could visit and learn about algae-related technologies.

Ultimately I would like to asses two outcomes from the algae experiment. Firstly, to collect the algae mass the bio-reactor will produce in 6 months and take it to a UK based oil processing company (preferably UK due to postage & travel costs) to convert it to bio-fuel and see is if I can power a small lawn mower machine. Secondly I would like to calculate and possibly equate this exercise to the now disused Battersea Power Station. In other words, if the Battersea power station produced 10MWH per day, how much algae would need to be grown in order to match that amount of power now and would it use far less resources with less pollution released into the environment? These are the kind of comparisons that I would like to be able to make at the end of the MA course which will give a sense of reality to the algae experiment.

Figure 4

“We should be neither optimists nor pessimists about the future. We should be possibilists. We should decide on the future we want and set about creating it.” Hans Rosling Page:29

Bibliography, Imagery & Webography

Figure 1: Botryococcus braunii Small lake in New Hampshire, USA. Web:

Figure 2: Botryococcus braunii Modified from image posted at National Institute of Environmental Science, Japan. Web:

Figure 3: Botryococcus braunii Modified from image posted at National Institute of Environmental Science, Japan. Web: Figure 4: AJ online magazine: Ian simpson architects. Web:

1: P. Metzger C. Largeau (2005). “Botryococcus braunii: a rich source for hydrocarbons and related ether lipids”. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 6 (25): 486–96. via Wikipedia article ‘Algae’ 2: Jian Qin (2005). Bio -Hydrocarbons from Algae: Impacts of temperature, light and salinity on algae growth. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australia. via Wikipedia article ‘Algae’ 3: Algal Oil Yields – Yield Data for Oil from Algae Strains, Algae Species with High Oil Yields 4: Pienks, P.T and A. Darzins, “The Promise and Challenges of Microalgal-Derived Biofuels.” Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining, 3, pp. 431-440 (2009). via Algal Biofuels: The process. Eric P. Knoshaug, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Pg 38 5: Wageningen University, Facts on Algae, Growing Algae. growing_algae/ 6: Hielscher, Ultrasound Technology 7: National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap. May 2010 U.S. Department of Energy. Introduction, Section V: Extraction & Harvesting pdf 8:National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap. May 2010 U.S. Department of Energy. chapter 3. Water management. pg 33. 9: Bengtson, S.; Belivanova, V.; Rasmussen, B.; Whitehouse, M. (May 2009). “The controversial “Cambrian” fossils of the Vindhyan are real but more than a billion years older”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106 (19): 7729–7734. via Wikipedia article ‘Algae’


Project correspondence to be included in 3.2 separatedocument




















First US algae-powered flight takes to the skies 8 November 2011 The first US commercial flight to be powered by biofuels derived from algae has flown from Houston’s IAH airport to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The microbially-derived biofuel, called Solajet, was manufactured by Solazyme and is a 60% petroleum-derived jet fuel. Solazyme has signed a letter of intent with United Airlines to produce 500,000 tonnes of renewable fuel by 2015, and to supply up to 20 million gallons a year of the renewable jet fuel by 2014. Although the fuel used in the Boeing 737-824 aircraft was produced by Solazyme’s fermentation process, Honeywell’s UOP was behind the processing technology. Solajet complies with the ASTM D7566 specification for ‘synthetic paraffinic kerosene from hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids’, which specifies bio-based fuels intended to be blended with commercial jet fuel (Jet-A). Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the Algal Biomass Organization, says: ‘This flight demonstrates without a doubt that algae-based fuels are ‘here and now’, and as companies across the country scale up operations, we expect to see more aircraft and vehicles fuelling up with clean, domestic fuels made from algae.’ Jonathan Wolfson, CEO of Solazyme, adds: ‘The US navy has demonstrated the effectiveness of our fuel in multiple vessels over the past year, and we are honoured to be working with United Airlines and Honeywell’s UOP to see this important next step in the commercialisation of our renewable fuels.’



Basic Algae Culturing Instructions

Algae culturing sterilization techniques

Always follow proper sterilization techniques to minimize contamination of the culture. Thoroughly sterilize all containers, tools, mediums, and the environment in which you will be working. Wash your hands before handling the materials and culture to minimize the chance of contamination. While not necessary you may wish to wear disposable “surgical” gloves when handling/transferring the culture to further reduce the risk of contamination. Prepare your container. Ensure that the container is clean and sterilized properly to minimize the risk of contamination. Prepare your medium. Use an appropriate Fresh- or Salt-water as appropriate for the particular strain of algae being cultured. You should use a distilled water (preferably glass-distilled) as tap water often contains too many trace minerals and chemicals from the pipes and/or water supply. When preparing a salt-water solution using a “sea salt” additive you should mix according to the manufacturers instructions to ensure a proper level of salinity for the particular strain being cultured. Add nutrient solution to the medium. Thoroughly read and follow the manufacturers specifications when preparing your nutrient solution to ensure optimum nutrient concentrations. Transfer an appropriate amount of the algae culture to the medium. You can use as much as you wish but your sample should be a minimum of 1ml of the algae culture. 1ml is sufficient for a 250ml container and you should adjust the amount based on the size of the container. Cover the container as quickly as possible to avoid the introduction of contaminants into the solution. If you are using a flask or other similar container without a stopper it is recommended that you loosely cover the top opening with aluminum foil. Apply lighting to the container in a manner which provides equal exposure throughout the medium. Lighting should be provided by using “cool white” florescent tube lights and should be placed at a distance of approximately 1cm for every 2.5 watts (e.g 24cm for a 60 watt bulb). A general recommendation is 12 hours on / 12 hours off during culturing. Using incandescent lights or placing the culture in direct sunlight can be bad as these types of lighting also contribute excess heat which can be detrimental to the growth of the algae. If you wish to use natural sunlight you can diffuse the light by attaching sheets of white bonded paper to the container If you are planning to store the culture for long term preservation you may wish to reduce the light cycle to 8 hours on / 16 hours off for long term storage. Agitate the culture regularly. This is important to ensure an equal distribution of the algae in the solution thereby enhancing exposure to the light and nutrients. This is also important to reduce sedimentation in the culture which and lead to problems in maintaining the culture. This can be done manually (i.e. “swirl” the container several times a day) or automatically (e.g. using a magnetic “spinning” mixer or an air pump “bubbler” system).


the algae experiment  

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