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OUPower.com • View topic - Algae Fuel

Algae Fuel

Do you have a project you're working on that doesn't fit into any of the forums above? Please post about it here.

Algae Fuel

Postby Jehu » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:56 pm

I don't know if anyone has posted on this before but the new buzz word going around seems to be Algae Fuel.

Using algae some farms have been able to get 15,000 gallons per hectare per year farming this stuff.

I've created a new project in my folder with an experimental bio reactor in it. It's just a few coke bottles an aquarium pump, tubing and a little bit of year old pee for fertiliser......oh yeah and some algae that I found in an old water jerry can.
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Postby Jehu » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:33 am

Well, one thing I've found is that having them in series isn't the best. Four reactors plus overflow bottle is about the max that should be in series for a little air pump. I reckon this is due to the fact that most of the co2 gets scrubbed buy the first 4 reactors, effectivly starving anymore down the chain. The overflow bottle doesn't matter cos of the froth made and not having a lid.

Also just plain tubing works quite well in it. All the flexible tubes are 3mm ID vinal. The first reactor (the right most one) has an air stone in it. I did have one in the second reactor but the overflow from the first just clogged it up. So I pulled it out and left it with no diffuser of any sort and there is still a lot of growth. The rest of the reactors use irrigation risers with spray tips on the end. Since they have large holes in them they shouldn't clog up, though I have noticed that the alge does tend to grow in them.

Also the alge likes to grow on the tubing. Not in but ON. I'm getting some nice big colonies growing on the tubes that eventually fall off to the bottom, creating new colonies.

I'm thinking of next time I do any fermenting I'll pipe the co2 from the fermenter to near the pump to try and get it growing a bit faster.

Any comments would are welcome
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Postby Jehu » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:46 am

Well, I've had to do a bit of maintainence on the connections of the tubing. Ok, that blue plumbers glue doesn't stick very well to coke caps. Silicon works better but due the the small connectors, it's easy to come loose. Though covering the cap, connector and tubing with silicon creates a much better seal. Also coating the inside of the caps around the connectors helps too. I've noticed that sometimes the air will leak out around them and just pass on to the next reactor. It's kinda strange seeing the first 4 bubbling normally, the last two not, but the overflow bubbling nicely as normal.

Sometimes I have to give the bottles a few squeezes as some of the hoses between the reactors are getting clogged with alge and crap. This just clears the lines and makes it all flow better.

Another thing I've noticed is that Algae isn't particually fond of direct sunlight. It seems to grow better in the shade with plenty of diffused, ambient light. Might be something to think about.

I'm also tinkering with the idea of using normal PVC sewer pipe and using red and blue LEDs for the growing. Maybe concentrating the light on those two wavelengths may help it grow better while using a solar panel to harvest the sunlight to power them.
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Postby Jehu » Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:08 am

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Postby resident_genius » Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:18 pm

hey dont get discouraged bud, im just lurking. i do enormous amounts of research every day... so i feel bad saying it but "i havent got the time".
where is the line between tinkerer and scientist, scientist and madman, madman and genius?

http://resident-genius.com
'Nuff said.

Latest Endeavor:
http://www.youtube.com/user/SimonG2892?feature=mhw5
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Postby Jehu » Thu Dec 31, 2009 9:28 pm

fair enough. I tend to work on multiple projects at the same time so I don't have to wait for one stage, like drying glue, to finish before I can proceed.

But anyway, Just some comments on what people think would be encouraging. What does everyone think of these ideas?
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Postby Jehu » Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:07 am

Well we've had a few warm days so the brew has really taken off. If I were to give it a guess, by the size and quantity of bubbles, the gas flow rate is probably about 1/5th of the aquarium air pump. I am actually surprised with the amount of CO2 produced.

One thing I'm a bit worried about is that in the late afternoon for about an hour the bottles are exposed to direct sunlight. I'm worried that the UV exposure may have killed the algae a bit. I hope this isn't the case and some of the more shaded colonies have survived to continue growth.

I really should have harvested the current batch first before hooking up the booze wash. Oh well. I've still gotta do the whole artifical light source setup too. Now just to figure out what wavelengths and quantities I need for that.
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Postby Jehu » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:41 am

Well, I think I figured out why the growth had slowed down. I got a feeling that the alge has started to rot. It's got that rotten smell to it. Either that or too much fertiliser.

Anyway, I tried to harvest it. Ugh even two coffee filters aren't enough. Only the big bits get caught in it with a heck of alot going straight through. So that would also rule out using a coffee plunger to harvest it. Looks like I'm gonna have to build a better filter, probably using aquarium filter wool. Though I suppose I could use something else. Maybe sand or charcoal. Humm, have to think about that.
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Postby Jehu » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:47 am

well the coffee filters are finally clogging up and catching the algae but the down side is is that it takes ages to filter through. And seeing that all my other funnels are being used the old coke bottle neck funnels will have to do. Shame they can't hold more.

I'm thinking of making a nice funnel out of PVC pipe. At least I will be able to have a decent amount in there at once to give it enough pressure to filter at a reasonable rate.

Another thing about this is the smell. It's rather strange. It smells like soggy veggie scraps left on the bench for a month and off milk. Not sure if it's flammable or not.

I've also noticed that when I transfer it from bottle to bottle the inside of the bottle being filled fogs up, like the water is hot but it's only room temp. Strange huh?
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Postby Jehu » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:00 am

Ok, this is getting really funny. I've been trying to clean up these 2 bottles of algae that I'm harvesting. Each time I filter it, even though I can see the filter is catching the algae, The water is comming out GREENER that when it went in. :shock: :?

The only thing I can think of is that the algae likes turbulance. Humm, and I thought it was the other way around. I might have to redesign the system. Maybe use a water pump to circulate the water around the reactor vessel and a redesign of the reactors. Have to figure out a new way of introducing the CO2. Humm, maybe by not bubbling it through the water but having it sit on top? I have noticed that there is a fair bit of growth around the necks of the bottles.

I've done a bit of research on hydrolosis of cellulose for fermentation. Looks like the method I stated a few posts ago should work ok. Maybe use a 'crockpot' to warm up the HCl. Still looking for the best way to extract the oil first. Alot of companies currently use Hexane but that's too far out of my league. Might have to look into pressing techniques.
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Postby Jehu » Tue Jan 05, 2010 8:58 pm

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Postby Jehu » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:34 am

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Postby Jehu » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:16 am

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Postby Jehu » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:20 am

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Postby Jehu » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:07 am

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