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Do-it-yourself algae bioreactor from recycled water bottles

Reduce your carbon footprint by building this do-it-yourself algae bioreactor that can produce your own biofuel.

September 2018

book cover

Do it yourself projects to get yourself out of the grid (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018) is illustrated with dozens of color photographs per project accompanied by easy-to-follow instructions. This Instructables collection uses the best the online community has to offer, transforming a group of far-reaching people into a gigantic database that churns out ideas to make life better, easier and, in this case, more environmentally friendly, as this volume exemplifies . Twenty Instructables illustrates how simple it is to create a chicken house in the yard or turn a wine barrel into a rainwater collector.

In this Instructable, we describe how to build a photo-bioreactor that uses algae to convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy. The energy produced is in the form of biomass of algae. The photo-bioreactor is built with recycled plastic bottles. By designing the apparatus to be partitioning, we are able to do many experiments in parallel. Using algae as biofuels, we can increase the world's oil supply and at the same time reduce the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide used during its production. The resulting product is a sustainable biofuel whose carbon footprint is neutral as CO2 produced by consumption is substantially balanced by the CO2 used in its production. In this Instructable, we first create the carbon dioxide delivery system, then mount the bottles of water on a rack and then inoculate the bottles with algae. After letting the algae grow for a week, we extract the biomass.

Phase 1: carbon dioxide supply system

1. To build the carbon dioxide delivery system, connect an eight-port sprinkler system manifold to a 1 "long PVC pipe.

2. To obtain good seals, use Teflon tape to fix the threads before joining the pieces.

3. Next, connect the 1 "tube to a T-connector. Block one end of the T-connector and attach the other end to the long PVC tube.

Step 2: Connect the tubing to the manifold

1. For each manifold, cut eight pieces of hoses and connect each piece to a manifold port. The manifold I am using has a dial on each port to control the flow velocity.

2. Make sure that all doors used are open and allow approximately the same amount of carbon dioxide to pass through the door.

Step 3: mount the carbon dioxide system

3. Mount the pneumatic system on a metal grid using the clamps. Attach the air system to a tank of carbon dioxide.

Step 4: mount the bottles of water

1. Hot-paste the water bottles on the metal grid.

Step 5: Create algae supports

1. Next we create the means to grow algae. Although there are many possible means, a standard garden fertilizer contains all the nitrogen and nutrients that algae need.

Step 6: Media Inoculation

1. A good source of algae is the algae of the pond, if available. Otherwise, there are a large number of online sellers selling lots of seaweed.

2. Inoculate the culture, measure a fixed amount of algae and add it to the growth medium.

Step 7: Growth and collection

1. After several days of exposure to sunlight and CO2, algae are much denser.

2. A French press is then used to extract the algae from the solution.

3. The biomass of dried algae can therefore be used as a fuel.

4. As a by-product of this process, a large amount of atmospheric CO2 is sequestered.

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Section with permission from Do it yourself projects to get yourself out of the grid from Copyright 2018 of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

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