Algae bioreactor from recycled water bottles

Energy & Sustainability

Here’s a really neat energy project:

In this instructable, we describe how to build a photo-bioreactor that uses algae to convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy. The energy that is produced is in the form of algae biomass. The photo-bioreactor is built from plastic recycled water bottles. By using algae as a biofuel, we can increase the world’s supply of oil while at the same time we decrease the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide used during its production. The resulting product is a sustainable biofuel whose carbon footprint is neutral inasmuch as the CO2 produced on consumption is essentially balanced by the CO2 used in its production. In this instructable, we first make the carbon dioxide delivery system, then mount the water bottles on a rack, and then inoculate the bottles with algae. After letting the algae grow for a week, we extract the biomass.

16 thoughts on “Algae bioreactor from recycled water bottles

  1. M3talhead says:

    Nice presentation, 2 questions though:

    1. Have you calculated the required energy utilized by your C02 “pump”?

    2. What is the expected return from the algae?

  2. brucee10 says:

    A better solution for a CO2 pump is to power one via solar. The photosynthesis stops at night anyway.

    The recycling aspect of this is pretty respectable, but the execution leave a lot to be desired. When do we get to see the process and tools needed to make the bio diesel?

  3. Jeremiah says:

    This idea has been around for a few years. I’ve read many articles on algae that produce oil, and even some that give off hydrogen during photosynthesis. Here is a link for an article that Popular Mechanics ran almost two years ago.

    I don’t necessarily like the idea of using vast land areas to produce energy instead of food (like corn is being used today for ethanol production), but its potential in a vertical farming application could be great.

  4. Jim says:

    Check out for open source bio reactor designs. these guys are realy helping to make a diffrence.

  5. Hymen McGoobstein says:

    But seriously!!!!! Where can I get some of those sweet recycled pop bottle shoes!

  6. Anonymous says:

    algae photobioreactor  is a device that can contain and grow algae.

  7. Shahriar Khan says:

    what about the calculation of carbon-di-oxide?

  8. Shahriar Khan says:

    what about the calculation of co2?

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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