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An Algae Bioreactor DIY Tutorial


1The production of biofuels from an algae bioreactor is a hot topic, if you’re interested in biofuels, alternative energy and you’re a green DIYer.

As we have already mentioned in earlier articles on the topic, government officials in the U.S. are already funding various projects to encourage  scientists and companies to implement this technology.

Here we would like to show you a way to do this too using recycled water bottles to make an algae bioreactor at home. The procedure is simple and very easy to follow, so why not take up the green challenge and have your part in cutting atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions?

These are the steps you need to follow:

1. Making a carbon dioxide delivery system

This is done by connecting an eight-port sprinkler system manifold to an one inch long PVC pipe. Make sure all threads are taped well using Teflon tape before the pieces are attached to each other.  Then attach the  PVC pipe to one end of the T-connector and block off the other end.



2. Fit the tubing

Cut out as many pieces of flexible tubing as you have ports on your manifold. If you decide to use less ports, then make sure only they are open and close the remaining. Then connect the tubes to each port on your manifold.


3. Fit the system

Using zip tiles, place the air system onto a metal rack, and attach it to a tank of carbon dioxide.

3.1 4.1 4.2

4. Attach the water bottles

The next step is to attach the water bottles to the same metal rack using hot glue.

5.1 5.2 5.3

5. Grow the algae

At this stage, you have to create the suitable medium for growing algae. A standard one that you can use is the garden store fertilizer that contains all nutrients needed for the algae to grow.


6. Measure the amount of algae

You can collect some pond algae from the nearest swamp, or simply buy from an online vendor. The crucial part here is to measure a fixed amount of algae, which should be added to the medium.

7.1 7.2 7


7. Growing algae

Allow several days for the algae to bloom and become denser, then use a regular French press to extract it from the solution. The biomass of the dried algae can be used as bio-fuel

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Special thanks to Instructables user Mfischer for the tips and the picture tutorial


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  1. Expert in Remote Sensing technology and GIS assessment, planning, design, development and management with a focus on environmental related problems. Strong technical skills in GIS application design and development, database design, systems architecture, and integration and holds several technical certifications for statistical analyses of GIS and Remotely sensed data. Her technical skills are complemented by her experience in program management and organizational development. College degrees include a Bachelors in Geography and Environmental Science (Sussex University), a Masters in Geoinformation science and Earth Observation with substantial post-graduate education and training in IT, GIS, Remote sensing, Environmental modelling and management, and PhD in spectral data analysis for monitoring soil erosion (University of Twente). A noted author and speaker, who pays key attention to detail and deadlines.


    Makes sense since she has no training in chemistry or biology. She has no credibility to talk about this subject.

  2. To clarify, assuming use of the correct algae strain, collect the solution in a gallon jug. Put jug in the refrigerator to cool and allow the bio-oil to separate from the water. If the oil is miscible in water (depends on atomic mass and structure), then you are screwed and you need to pick a new algal strain or invest in a still to separate the two components. Recycle the biomass (do not let it dry out) into fresh medium, and repeat. After a few batches the system can be optimized.

  3. Neat article on  how to construct an algal growth system. How can algae be used as biofuel? Is the system suppose to produce alkanes? If so, collecting bioreactors via french press drains all the fuel (liquid), and collects almost worthless biomass (solid). The biomass cannot be eaten or used for fuel. This article may be more than a little misleading, and or the author truly does not have any clue what they are talking about.Not all algae produces biofuel, only specific strains. Poorly written and researched. Should not call herself a scientist.

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