Preliminary Research and Documentation
The following research and documentation is meant to get this project started. Please consider this a work in progress. Significant work is needed to move this project forward.
Algae and microalgae need sunlight, water and carbon dioxide sunlight to grow. Algae farms installed near industrial areas use the carbon dioxide emissions from industries, and help in purifying air naturally.
They can be grown in either a closed loop system or in a open tray system.
A closed loop system is built by creating an array of transparent pipes that are exposed to sunlight. These pipes can be installed vertically or horizontally depending available space.
An open tray system is an array of channels that are exposed to sunlight. These need more space since the channels are always installed horizontally.
Figure 1 - Schematic diagram of an algae farm.
Microalgae and Macroalgae
Algae are broadly classified into microalgae and macroalgae. Microalgae are single-celled organisms and macroalgae are more complex and multi-celled organisms - often referred to as sea weeds. Collectively they include more than 1 million species of algae. The following species are best suited for manufacturing bioplastic.
These species of algae grow in fresh water, grey water and sea water. They are a good source of protein and are used in the food and pharmaceutical industries as food supplements. They are also used in the cosmetics industry. Biomass from these algae are mixed with conventional polymers to make bioplastics.
When building algae farms, there are some basic requirements for producing a good stock, regardless of the species. Light, water, carbon dioxide and minerals are all important ingredients in producing healthy algae. This combination produces the energy algae needs to grow.
Plasticizers are organic molecules that are mixed with materials to improve their flexibility, extensibility and processability. Glycerol is the most commonly used plasticizer in bioplastic production using microalgae. Some other examples of plasticizer are:
- Octanoic acid - Naturally found in the milk of various mammals, coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
- Butanediol (C4H10O2) - An important raw material in manufacturing spandex, plastics, elastic fibers, and films.
- Ethylene Glycol (C2H6O2) - A useful industrial compound found in consumer products like automotive antifreeze, hydraulic brake fluids, stamp pad inks, ballpoint pens, solvents, paints, plastics, films, and cosmetics.
Carboxymethyl Cellulose () - CMC is a chemical used as a thickener to stabilize emulsions and is commonly used in the manufacture of products like food, pharmaceuticals, toothpastes, paper, and textiles.
Compatibilizers are chemicals that bind one plasticizer with another. The most commonly used compatibilizers are:
- Maleic Anhydride (C4H2O3) - A toxic chemical used in the manufacture of resins.
- Potassium Persulfate (K2S2O8) - A chemical that is commonly used in production of soap and dyes.
- PE-g-MA (Polyethylene-graft-maleic anhydride) - Chemical that is used for abrasion resistance, lubricity, and anti-blocking.
Dimethyl sulfoxide (C2H6OS) - A solvent chemical commonly used in the medical industry in ointments and creams.
This project is being developed as an open-source project with the following licensing: