algae bio-reactor
april 2017
The Algae Bio-Reactor is a proof-of-concept prototype exploring the visualization capabilities of the Algae Bio-Display proposal for the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. To test the visualization aspect of the Algae Bio-Display proposal, we've constructed an 8 x 8 grid of jars, each of which contain Chlorella Vulgaris - a specific strain of Aglae. Each jar has 36 LEDs that are individually controlled by an Arduino. This allows us to control the amount of light each jar receives, and through photosynthesis controls the rate of growth of the algae in each jar. Each individual jar can be seen as a living monochromotic pixel and when amalgamated, a low resolution display is created. Below are drawings and pictures of our progress.
lead
Rodolphe el-Khoury
Christopher Chung
team
Michael Alexander
Zhengrong Hu
Samantha Jimenez
Clarisse Lopez
Pedro Ramos-Nieves
Connor Stuhrcke
Hongyang Wang
Haochi Zhang
role
My involvement with this project was at RAD-UM (rad-um.com) in which I was one of the Lead Designers while overseeing the production and fabrication of the prototype.
type
prototype
fabrication
physical computing
A kit of parts used to construct the Algae Bio-Reactor prototype.


Seen here is a close-up of one of the jars. The jars are held in place by a 3D printed housing while the 36 LEDs are placed at the bottom of the jar. A curved reflective mylar is placed at the back of the jar to illuminate the glow of green to the whole square. An air pump was also used in this prototype. It allowed for a flow of air to circulate the algae within each jar. This served two purposes: it helped speed up the growth of the algae, and it also prevented the algae from sinking to the bottom of the jar creating a consistent colour throughout.
A close-up of one of the jars of the Algae Bio-Reactor prototype.
Assembly of the shelving.
Placement of the jars and the 3D printed housing.
Placement of tubing from the air compressor and the reflective mylar.
An exploded axonometric of the entire prototype. Here you can see the various layers of the prototype required to make it operate.
A diagram of the growth of the algae. The image takes about 2 weeks to grow, here we've grown a "U" the iconic logo of the University of Miami.
Assembly of the prototype at the Smart Cities Conference Miami 2017.
Image of the prototype after two weeks of growth.