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Ok guys, I am wanting to make a bioreactor in my backyard. I am thinking of using 1000l IBC Totes. My question is what is everyone doing to promote growth, circulate, harvest, extract oil. My thoughts are to grow the algae in each tote individually then pipe it to a harvest tank maybe with a filter of some sort on the outlet and return it back to the original tank to recycle the water and the algae that passed through the screen would go back into the tank and continue to grow. My question is what kind of growth rate has been expected, how many totes would I need, what kind of lighting to use, and finally...what kind of pump system.

I've seen diaphram pumps. I think I like LED Lighting. My ultimate end game is to create 300 - 400 gallons of bio diesel a month via algae. I currently use at least 250 gallons of diesel a month, just purchased a TDI Jetta for my daughter...and if I can make this work the way I want it to I want to purchase a diesel yukon or something along those lines to replace my gas version. I am wanting to use a diesel generator to power my algae growth, harvesting, and processing into bio diesel. So how many totes would I need for this kind of production? About how much should I expect from one tote per day?

Thank you for your help

Registered: April 01, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi Jon,

I feel you might be on the wrong track in using totes for oil production. I would be interested in helping you set up your project, as I am currently working toward commercializing a algae fuel company so anything to keep me busy in the field is beneficial to me (and I am a biodiesel homebrewer as well).

First check out some very general websites like to get an idea of photobioreactor types, my company is most similar to the vertical flat-plate but our company is patenting a thin-film type. It may be easiest to set up a closed pond type, where the depth isn't any more than a kiddy pool (6"). Totes are much too deep, which prevents algae that is more than 3" deep won't get adequate light. Totes are also opaque, which attenuates the light significantly.

The photobioreactor type, environmental conditions and light intensity will all affect growth rate. If all of those are met adequately, the algae density is the next limiting. You can expect about 2 grams / L / day on average unless you are running at high efficiency. When you decide your photobioreactor type, we can talk more on circulation and possibly CO2 supplementation.

I have recently been tinkering with LED lighting to supply light to algae, using 5W starboard LED's at various wavelenghts (400, 420, 470, 590, 640, 660) to replicate the spectrum needed for chlorophyll growth. It is ideal to reach light intensity similar to sun at low cost, so high power LED is a good bet!

~Ryan J.

Chemical & Energy Engineering -- The Pennsylvania State University
Registered: May 22, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for stopping in, Ryan! I have a questions for a homebrew setup:

I've read that pressing the algae is the most efficient bang for buck method as far as extraction. I'll entertain more advanced methods as I establish myself, but I'd like to know what press I should use. All of the screw presses I've found are industrial units that cost at least $3000. Too much for me! The hand-crank models I've seen are below $200, but I'm not sure if that would work for me. What do you think??

Colin Bunting
Location: New England | Registered: April 29, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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AlstonElectric, totes are ok for a cheap startup. They will still grow the algae as long as the water is agitated to give the algae equal sunlight.
Search YouTube for "algae bioreactor at night"

Use blue or red spectrum LED, algae like those the most.

Also I have a "Dirty Jobs" segment on my YouTube that shows how to do a shallow raceway pond. We just don't have to anger the algae. They were making astasampton which we don't care about.
Unless you like $1,000 per bay of astasampton!!!! Pretty good profit.
Search TV Dirt Jobs Algae Man.

Hope this helps!!
Location: Decatur, TX | Registered: February 09, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Algae cultivation can be achieved in two ways: open ponds and photobioreactors (PBR). A photobioreactor is a closed equipment which provides a controlled environment and enables high productivity of algae. As it is a closed system, all growth requirements of algae are introduced into the system and controlled according to the requirements.PBRs facilitate better control of culture environment such as carbon dioxide supply, water supply, optimal temperature, efficient exposure to light, culture density, pH levels, gas supply rate, mixing regime, etc.,
BIoreactors Bioreactors
Registered: August 06, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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