Algae bioreactor

Build an automated photobioreactor to grow and study microalgae.

Our project uses microalgae to conduct various experiments. The algae we use belongs to the genus Chlorella within the class Trebouxiophyceae and is a unicellular green alga. In natural circumstances it is found in stagnant and flowing waters and can live in fresh and brackish water. Microalgae is a very interesting plant for science because it was used to decipher the mechanism of photosynthesis and is therefore considered a model organism for research.

The objectives of this project are two-fold. In a first stage we want to design and build a photobioreactor which will allow us to grow and monitor Chlorella cultures in a partially automated fashion. The second stage then consists in conducting a range of experiments to establish if microalgae can be used to remove excess nitrogen and possibly pollutants from wastewater.

During the 2020/21 school year we conducted preliminary experiments to characterise the growth rate of microalgae in culture. The information we obtained will be useful for any further experiments.

Our main goal for the current school year is to build the photobioreactor, which will allow us to monitor and control parameters such as temperature, pH level and the amount of fresh air flowing to the algae. In parallel we will already determine the optimal media composition and conditions for algal growth.